Cloth face coverings can reduce the release of virus particles into the air when a person with COVID-19 speaks, coughs or sneezes. You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a cloth face covering, even if you don’t think you have COVID-19. This is called source control. This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing, washing hands, and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these actions.
Starting in April, the CDC, Governor Bullock, and the Gallatin City-County Board of Health recommended cloth face coverings to help control the spread of respiratory droplets and the virus. While some people voluntarily adopted face coverings, many did not. These new mandates recognize the importance of cloth face coverings as a key strategy to reduce transmission of COVID-19, especially as we continue to reopen our economy and return to public life.
All people over the age of 5 years old in Gallatin County must wear a face covering in indoor spaces.
Children under the age of 5.*
While seated eating or drinking.
While engaging in strenuous physical exercise.
People with medical conditions that would be worsened by wearing a face covering.
*All children between the ages of two and four are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering. Children under the age of 2 should not wear a face covering. Children under 12 who wear face coverings should be monitored. If the mask is causing discomfort or resulting in the child touching their face frequently, reconsider whether a face covering is appropriate for that child.
NO! 911 should be reserved for emergency or criminal situations that need immediate attention. The COVID-19 Call Center is the proper place to report violations by businesses and/or large groups of people.
Local law enforcement agencies generally have primary enforcement jurisdiction. The Rule is not intended to penalize people. It’s intended to encourage each of us to wear a face covering, protect one another, and help keep Montana and Gallatin County on the path to reopening. We hope that most people will wear face coverings to protect the health of their friends, strangers, and loved ones. However, not following the Rule may result in a misdemeanor. On conviction, the person shall be fined not less than $10 or more than $200.
Individuals have the ability to claim a medical exemption and businesses can rely on that exemption in good faith and allow entry. Equally, business owners have the right over their business and property to decide when someone should be allowed entry or provided an accommodation, in agreement with the law. The health department continues to encourage business owners to identify alternatives like curb-side pick-up and over the phone-transaction for those individuals who claim a medical exemption in these scenarios.
Businesses may ask how to accommodate an individual’s disabilities. Options may include:
Having face shields on hand to provide to disabled customers
Offering curbside pick-up
Offering services via phone or online
If accommodations cannot be made and individuals are unable to comply with requirements necessary for safe operation, individuals may be asked to leave the business. The ADA governs accommodations of this sort, but does not preclude asking customers about health information. HIPAA and the Fourth and Fifth Amendments are also inapplicable to conversations related to face-coverings in businesses.
The Governor’s rule defines face covering as a fabric, paper, or disposable face covering that covers the nose and mouth and which does not have an exhalation valve. The term “face covering” includes face shields.
A face covering may be factory-made or handmade from ordinary household materials. It should fit snugly but comfortably, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction, and laundered and machine-dried without damage or change to shape.
Replace face coverings when they become dirty, wet, and/or difficult to breathe through.
No, and you are not required to have a medical note to prove that condition. Please do not contact your healthcare provider to obtain documentation. Do talk to them about your concerns or to seek medical care if you are sick.
For the vast majority of the general public, there are no health risks when wearing a face covering. Those who are younger than the age of 2, those with certain medical conditions, and those who are not able to remove the face covering on their own, should not wear one.
The prolonged use of face coverings can be uncomfortable. However, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication or oxygen deficiency.
On August 12, Governor Bullock extended the July 15 Directive requiring face masks in certain indoor and outdoor settings to include public and private k-12 schools. The August 12 Directive requires students and staff to wear face coverings in all areas of the school. While children are encouraged to wear masks at all times, schools may allow children to remove their masks if they are seated and socially distanced in a classroom. This is a narrow allowance. Social distancing is defined as having 6 feet of spacing from any other person-in other words, this flexibility is permissible only where such spacing is strictly observed. Doing so may require reduced classroom capacity. The flexibility described here applies only to classrooms where social distancing can occur and when children are seated at their desks. If a teacher is working one on one with a student, both teacher and student must wear a mask. If students are working in small groups, they must be wearing masks.
The flexibility described here is only available where county health departments have not instituted more stringent requirements. Local officials and individual school districts may impose more restrictive requirements as they deem appropriate for local circumstances. Here is the relevant language, reproduced in both the July 15 and August 12 Directives: “In the interest of uniformity of laws and to prevent the spread of disease, all inconsistent local government health ordinances or orders are preempted by this Directive, but only to the extent they are less restrictive. Counties, cities, and towns may adopt more restrictive ordinances.”