Montana Governor Promises to Protect Businesses After Lifting Mask Mandates
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte lifted the statewide mask mandate Feb. 12 which had been in effect since July 2020. He also signed into law protections for businesses, places of worship, medical providers and nonprofits from coronavirus-related lawsuits if they “make a good faith effort to protect individuals from the spread of the coronavirus”.
During Gianforte’s run for governor he promised Montana he would rescind the mask mandate when the state vaccinated enough residents and had protections in place against lawsuits.
“Since January 5th, I have provided a clear, consistent path to rescinding the mask mandate,” Gianforte said.
“First, we need to start getting the vaccine to our most vulnerable. Second, we need to protect businesses, nonprofits, places of worship, and health care providers from lawsuits if they make a good faith effort to protect individuals from the spread of coronavirus and follow clear public health guidelines.”
Gianforte said the state met both of those requirements this week.
However, some counties are choosing to keep the mask mandate in place. Among those include Lewis and Clark County, Gallatin County, Butte County, Missoula County and the city of Whitefish.
So far, 47,000 residents have received the coronavirus vaccination. Health experts estimate that around 250,000 people are eligible to get the shot during the current distribution phase.
Gallatin County Health Officer Matt Kelley countered the governor’s decision saying that thousands of vulnerable people are unable to access the vaccine.
“I’d like everybody to have a chance at the vaccine before we take the mask mandate down,” Kelley said. “We’re not even close to that yet.”
Gianforte continues to post positively on social media about vaccination sites and has begun to use #MontanaComeBack in hopes of uniting the state.