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By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Missoula County moves to Phase 2

 


MISSOULA - On Thursday, May 28, the Missoula City-County Health Department amended local orders to embrace the Governor’s requirements for Phase 2, which take effect June 1. Missoula County offices will begin to reopen to the public with precautions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Starting Monday, per Governor Bullock’s directive, gyms, fitness studios, pools, restaurants and bars can move to 75% capacity providing that they can maintain six-foot distancing. Restaurants and bars can increase the number of people seated at tables and bowling alleys and concert halls can open with reduced capacity. The state directive also increased group size to 50 without social distancing and asked those hosting larger events to contact their local health department on distancing measures.

The order issued by Director and Health Officer Ellen Leahy outlines how event coordinators connect with the health department as requested in the Governor’s directive. It also provides event coordinators social distancing guidelines. Some of these requirements include:

• Events and gatherings are limited to 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing including parades, receptions, dances and sports.

• Events of 51-250 people are recommended to have an internal COVID-19 event plan to ensure minimum requirements are met.

• Events from 251-1,000 people must have an internal COVID-19 event plan. While it does not need to be submitted to the Health Department, it must be maintained onsite and made available to the Health Department upon request.

• Events with more than 1,000 people must develop and submit a COVID-19 Event Plan to the Health Department for review and approval.

• The plan must be followed during the event and adjustments made to achieve physical distancing.

• Event organizers must modify, scale back, postpone or cancel the event if the Health Officer requires it.

“Missoula has many events during the summer. We want these to happen and need coordinators to think about how to support distancing and other COVID preventions,” said Cindy Farr, Incident Commander for the Health Department’s COVID-19 response. “This isn’t over, unfortunately.”

The Governor’s Phase Two also eliminates the traveler’s quarantine. With many areas of the country still seeing a lot of cases, including nearby states, this could mean additional cases for Montana.

“Right now, Montana looks like the place to be. We have great recreation opportunities and events, low case counts and people are going to start coming here,” said Farr. “The virus could get introduced, and if we don’t use the means we have for preventing spread, this could take off.” Farr pointed out that Missoula is considered a tourist destination.

Farr also encouraged Missoulians to continue practicing COVID-19 prevention measures and embrace the changes that they may see at events this summer to keep everyone safe. She pointed out that while events may not feel the same as in the past, Missoula is trying to provide ways for them to happen. Other areas have decided not to allow larger events until the Governor changes his directives.

Starting Monday, Missoula County offices will begin to reopen. Precautions will look different in various buildings depending on the volume of foot traffic and interaction with the public. In general, facilities will have floor markings to indicate 6-foot spacing, plexiglass or other barriers between staff and the public and hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes available for use. Staff and members of the public will be strongly encouraged or, in some offices, required to wear cloth face coverings in situations where social distancing is difficult.

Buildings also will have self-check stations set up for employees designed to review potential symptoms of COVID-19 and reminders to not report to work if they have symptoms. To facilitate this, employees will use designated entrances and exits that are separate from those the public use.

Partial reopening information for public-facing Missoula County Departments is listed below (visit this story at seeleylake.com for a complete list and reopening protocols). All are opening June 1 unless otherwise noted, physical distancing measures will be in place, masks are requested and required in some offices and those with appointments are encouraged to come alone unless the situation requires two parties to be present. Guidelines and protocols are subject to change as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

Clerk and Treasurer’s Office, Missoula County Courthouse First Floor, 200 W. Broadway

• The office will open to the public Monday, June 1, with limited staff.

• In-person services will be by appointment only. This includes motor vehicle registration, renewals and transfers, property tax payments or changes, and requests for birth certificates and other records.

• Residents can call 406-258-4847 to make an appointment. Customers are encouraged to complete services online at missoulaclerk.us whenever possible.

• The office encourages no more than one person to attend an appointment but will make accommodations for parties of two, such as a buyer and seller.

• A maximum of four customers will be allowed in the office at one time: two at the open appointment windows and two in the waiting area.

• Customers will be required to wear a cloth face covering to enter the office.

• Hand sanitizer will be available for customers, and staff will wipe down pens and other items between customers.

Clerk of Court’s Office, Courthouse Second Floor

• The office will open to the public Monday, June 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with limited staff.

• In-person services will be by appointment-only by calling 406-258-4780.

• The office requests no more than one person to attend an appointment but will make accommodations for marriage license applicants to appear together.

• A maximum of three people will be allowed in the customer service area at a time.

• Those with appointments should wait in their vehicle until called to limit congestion and must maintain physical distancing of 6 feet in the customer service area. Tape markings on the floor will indicate 6-foot distancing.

• A cloth face covering is strongly encouraged for all customers. Disposable masks available upon request.

• Hand sanitizer will be available for customers, and staff will wipe down pens, counters and other items between customers.

• Only one person will be allowed in the public search area at a time. Customers should call 406-258-4780 to request admittance.

• Marriage applicants may continue to apply for marriage licenses online, without an in-person visit.

• Self-represented litigants are encouraged to continue to submit paperwork by email, fax, mail or drop box. The regular fee for email/fax will be waived.

• Attorneys in cases not yet available for e-filing are encouraged to continue to submit pleadings by email, fax, mail or drop box. The regular fee for email/fax will be waived.

• Email: clerkofcourt@missoulacounty.us

• Fax: 406-258-4899

Commissioners’ Office, 199 W. Pine St.

• Commissioners will continue to hold their public meetings virtually via Teams through June.

• The public can check the commissioners’ schedule for information ahead of each upcoming public meeting.

• Staff check email, mail and voicemail each day.

Community and Planning Services, 127 E. Main St.

• Staff will begin transitioning to work at the office on June 1, though the office will remain closed to the public through that week and no in-person services will be offered.

• The info desk will be staffed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily to field questions from the public about zoning, permits, land use, projects or plans and can be reached by phone at 406-258-4642 or email at zoner@missoulacounty.us.

• The office will open to the public by appointment-only on a date yet to be determined.

• The office will return to normal operations at a date yet to be determined.

• As in-person services are provided and the office is reopened to the public, social distancing measures will be in place and noticed, use of face masks strongly encouraged, and a limited number of disposable masks available.

• The department encourages the continued submission of documents and forms electronically when possible.

County Attorney’s Office, Courthouse Fourth Floor

• The office will open to the public on June 1, with the majority of employees working in the building.

• Hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Staff may work staggered schedules to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

• Social distancing and other measures will be in place, and the office will modify its lobby and conference rooms to accommodate 6-foot distancing.

• Staff and visitors are strongly encouraged to wear cloth face coverings. The office will have disposable face masks for those who need them.

Crime Victim Advocate Program, 317 Woody St.

• The office will open to the public Monday, June 8, with limited staff. • Telephone-based services are strongly encouraged. • In-person services will be by appointment, except in cases of an emergency. This includes applications for orders of protection and other advocacy services. • People can call 406-258-3830 to make an appointment. • The office encourages no more than one person to attend an appointment but will make accommodations for parties of two. • A maximum of two clients will be allowed in the office at one time. • Clients will be required to wear a face covering to enter the office. We will provide you with a paper mask if you do not have your own. • Plan to maintain a 6' distance from staff when visiting the office and/or when attending court with an advocate. • Hand sanitizer will be available for clients, and staff will wipe down pens and other items between customers. • For general information, visit http://www.missoulacounty/cva

District Court, Courthouse Second and Third Floors • District Court, which is a function of the state, will begin conducting in-person hearings throughout June. Those with questions should contact their attorney or the courts for additional information.

Elections Center, 140 N. Russell St.

• The Elections Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and providing voter services with social distancing and sanitation measures in place. Voters should expect longer wait times for voter registration, ballot replacement and other services.

• The Elections Office must receive ballots by 8 p.m. Election Day; postmarks are not sufficient. Elections staff encourages voters who have not yet mailed their ballots to drop them at the Elections Office through June 1 or at a drive-thru ballot drop-off on Election Day. • On Election Day, voter registration and other services will be in the large green building on the east side of the lot, with voter parking and drop-off at the same end of the lot. The west end of the lot, closest to Russell Street, is exit-only and right-turn-only on to Wyoming Street. • All voters in line at 8 p.m. on Election Day will be served. • Drive-by ballot drop-off will be available at five locations across the county from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day:

o Missoula County Fairgrounds

o Lolo Elementary School

o Bonner School

o Seeley Lake Elementary

o Frenchtown Fire Station

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, 3400 Captain Rawn Way

• Museum will open to the public on June 1 with the reduced summer hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the 10 a.m. to noon reserved for vulnerable populations. The museum will also be open from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

• Only 10 visitors will be allowed inside the museum at any given time.

• Signs and floor markings will indicate 6-foot distancing where necessary, and a plexiglass barrier will be installed at the front desk.

• Visitors will follow a one-way traffic pattern while viewing exhibits.

• Museum will close an hour earlier than normal for cleaning and sanitizing.

• Visitors are strongly encouraged to wear cloth face coverings, and staff and volunteers will wear them when in public areas of the museum.

• The museum will provide a sign-in sheet for visitors to assist with contract tracing, if necessary.

• Starting Monday, June 15, small groups of 25 people or fewer will be allowed for programs outside on the grounds with proper social distancing. The number of visitors inside the museum will continue to be limited to 10. Social distancing is strongly encouraged.

• HMFM will start accepting book and artifact donations by appointment only on June 15.

• Volunteers can resume activities on Wednesday, July 13.

• Groups of up to 50 can gather on the grounds with social distancing starting July 13.

• The museum plans to resume all normal activities when the state enters Phase Three.

Justice Court, Courthouse, First Floor

• All court hearings other than trials, order of protection hearings, and landlord/tenant possession hearings will be held by conference call or video. Parties should not appear in court unless a judge or clerk instructs them to.

• Anyone who receives a ticket should contact the clerk of court at 406-258-3470 to schedule an initial appearance.

• Anyone physically appearing in a courtroom must use cloth face coverings. The court will provide disposable masks for those unable to provide their own.

• The court will not begin conducting criminal jury trials again until July, at the earliest. Civil jury trials will not resume until September, at the earliest.

• The court is officiating weddings again under limited circumstances.

• Upon request, initial appearances, trials and other proceedings will be available to the public via Zoom.

Public Works, 6089 Training Drive

• The main office in Missoula will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays starting Monday, June 1.

• No more than two customers at a time will be allowed in the lobby. The department asks that when visitors see more than one customer inside that they wait in their vehicles until a customer leaves.

• Signage will be in place to help customers adhere to social distancing while inside. Public Works recommends that customers wear masks, and a limited number of disposable masks will be available upon entry.

• The Seeley Lake satellite office also will open to the public June 1, but by appointment only. Please call 406-396-8148 to make an appointment.

• Public Works inspectors will resume all inspections, including interior inspections, starting June 1. The department encourages on-site customers and contractors to wear appropriate PPE during the inspection and follow social distancing guidelines.

• Signs and floor markings will indicate 6-foot distancing where necessary, and a plexiglass barrier will be installed at the front desk.

• Visitors will follow a one-way traffic pattern while viewing exhibits.

• Museum will close an hour earlier than normal for cleaning and sanitizing.

• Visitors are strongly encouraged to wear cloth face coverings, and staff and volunteers will wear them when in public areas of the museum.

• The museum will provide a sign-in sheet for visitors to assist with contract tracing, if necessary.

• Starting Monday, June 15, small groups of 25 people or fewer will be allowed for programs outside on the grounds with proper social distancing. The number of visitors inside the museum will continue to be limited to 10. Social distancing is strongly encouraged.

• HMFM will start accepting book and artifact donations by appointment only on June 15.

• Volunteers can resume activities on Wednesday, July 13.

• Groups of up to 50 can gather on the grounds with social distancing starting July 13.

• The museum plans to resume all normal activities when the state enters Phase Three.

Justice Court, Courthouse, First Floor

• All court hearings other than trials, order of protection hearings, and landlord/tenant possession hearings will be held by conference call or video. Parties should not appear in court unless a judge or clerk instructs them to.

• Anyone who receives a ticket should contact the clerk of court at 406-258-3470 to schedule an initial appearance.

• Anyone physically appearing in a courtroom must use cloth face coverings. The court will provide disposable masks for those unable to provide their own.

• The court will not begin conducting criminal jury trials again until July, at the earliest. Civil jury trials will not resume until September, at the earliest.

• The court is officiating weddings again under limited circumstances.

• Upon request, initial appearances, trials and other proceedings will be available to the public via Zoom.

Public Works, 6089 Training Drive

• The main office in Missoula will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays starting Monday, June 1.

• No more than two customers at a time will be allowed in the lobby. The department asks that when visitors see more than one customer inside that they wait in their vehicles until a customer leaves.

• Signage will be in place to help customers adhere to social distancing while inside. Public Works recommends that customers wear masks, and a limited number of disposable masks will be available upon entry.

• The Seeley Lake satellite office also will open to the public June 1, but by appointment only. Please call 406-396-8148 to make an appointment.

• Public Works inspectors will resume all inspections, including interior inspections, starting June 1. The department encourages on-site customers and contractors to wear appropriate PPE during the inspection and follow social distancing guidelines.

 

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