Revised COVID-19 mitigation requirements recommended for restaurants, bars and casinos
January 21, 2021
At its meeting Jan. 21, the Missoula City-County Board of Health (MCCHD), will consider adopting revisions to current COVID-19 mitigation requirements for restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos.
These revisions have been under careful consideration since early November 2020, after a group called Revive Missoula’s Bars and Restaurants – a coalition of about 70 bar and restaurant owners – approached MCCHD hoping to find a suitable solution that would allow bars to be open later at night. The coalition told MCCHD that bars tend to conduct most of their business between 10 – 12 p.m. Together, they landed on the idea of creating a more structured environment as a solution to keeping these businesses open later. However, before they could ask the Board of Health to make a change to the 10 p.m. closing time, Governor Steve Bullock issued a statewide directive closing bars and restaurants at 10 p.m.
On Jan. 13, Governor Greg Gianforte rescinded most statewide COVID-19 mitigation requirements for businesses. His directive, which went into effect Friday, Jan. 15, recommends that businesses adhere to industry best practices and continue to follow COVID-19 mitigation strategies for physical distancing, employee health, sanitation and cleaning. This change in state regulation allowed MCCHD to revisit revisions proposed by the coalition.
Based on the current epidemiological data, MCCHD does not recommend that the Health Board relax physical distancing, employee pre-shift health checks, reduced capacity, face covering use and enhanced cleaning and sanitation.
However, they propose to allow establishments to be open later, maintain six-foot distancing between groups and increase group size from six to eight. The proposed rules require that everyone in the bar, order and be served at their seats to prevent mingling with other tables or crowding at the bar.
Public comment regarding the proposed changes will be accepted through the resident feedback portal on missoulainfo.com until Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 5 p.m. There will also be a public comment period during the meeting, although those comments will be subject to a time limit.
For information on how to join the meeting via Teams visit https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/health/health-department/boards-councils/boards-agendas-minutes or call in 1-406-272-4824, Phone Conference ID: 737 113 914#. The proposed revisions are available at https://www.seeleylake.com/home/customer_files/article_documents/appendix_d_restaurant_and_bars.pdf