Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has mandated all Montana residents employed by non-essential businesses to stay home.

Citing authority granted to him under the state constitution, Gov. Bullock announced all businesses and operations in Montana — “except for essential businesses and operations as defined in the directive” — were to stop all activities in the state effective March 28, 2020.

Essential businesses, as defined by the governor’s directive and established by the MCA, include but are not limited to:

• Stores that sell groceries and medicine

• Food and beverage production and agriculture

• Organizations that provide charitable and social services

• Media including newspapers, television, radio and other media services

• Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation

• Hardware and supply stores...and businesses that sell electrical, plumbing and heating material including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff

• Critical trades including building and construction tradesmen and tradeswomen, and other trades

• Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services

• Educational institutions including public and private pre-K–12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating remote learning, performing critical research, or performing other essential functions consistent with prior Directives on school closures

• Laundry services including laundromats, dry cleaners and industrial laundry services

• Restaurants for consumption off-premises

• Hotels and motels...to the extent they are used for lodging and delivery or carry-out food services

• Transportation including airlines, taxis and transportation network providers

• Funeral services including funeral, mortuary, cremation, burial, cemetery and related services

For the complete list of “Essential Businesses and Operations” see the governor’s directive.

Stay Home to Stop Virus

Gov. Bullock announced the drastic decision to require all non-essential workers to stay home until at least April 10, 2020 to stop the virus from spreading further and to ensure healthcare providers are not overloaded, he said.

“There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is causing a lot of hardship,” the governor stated. “It’s also causing incredible hardships for our frontline doctors, nurses and other hospital staff across the country.”

Workers deemed “non-essential” are being asked to stay home and take measures to stay healthy.

The Montana constitution authorizes the governor, during a state of emergency, to “suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or orders or rules of any state agency if the strict compliance...would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency or disaster.”

Citing the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918, Gov. Bullock noted in his proclamation it is not unprecedented for the state’s chief executive to declare a state of emergency because of health concerns.

Bullock reminded Montanans that more than a century ago public-health authorities closed schools and other public places to prevent the spread of the Spanish flu.

“These measures can save lives across the United States now,” Bullock declared. “Montana must act now, before its own rate of infection mirrors that of other states. I am taking these measures today because we need to stay in front of this pandemic and slow the growth of infections.”

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