Effective immediately, residents in Montana counties that have four or more active COVID-19 cases, will be required to wear a face covering in certain spaces.

According to the press release from Governor Bullock, the directive will "require businesses, government offices and other indoor spaces open to the public to ensure that employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, and other members of the public wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose while remaining inside these spaces."

Organized outdoor events that have 50 or more people will also have a face covering requirement, when social distancing isn't possible or observed, according to the Governors directive.

Many Montanans answered the call to mask up – a call that came from our hospitals, nurses, and doctors, our vibrant small business community, our frontline workers, and our high-risk neighbors. I thank all of those who take seriously their personal responsibility and their role in stopping COVID-19. But we need even more Montanans, and the visitors who come here, to mask up. -Governor Steve Bullock

The move to mandate face coverings in Montana follows a rise in active COVID-19 cases over the past month, going from 55 cases to more than 1,000.

According to the press release, the directive does not require face coverings in the Montana counties where there are 3 or fewer active COVID-19 cases. Children under 5 are also not required to wear face coverings under the directive, though are "strongly encouraged in both cases."

Other exceptions to wearing a face covering under the directive include:

  • Children under 2 years old
  • While eating or drinking at businesses that sell food or drinks
  • During activities that make face coverings unsafe (like strenuous physical exercise or swimming)
  • While giving speeches or performances in front of a socially distanced audience
  • While receiving medical care or for people with a preexisting condition that would make wearing a face covering unsafe

Businesses, government offices, and other publicly operating spaces will be required to provide face coverings for their employees and volunteers, and post signs that state face coverings are required for anyone who is 5 or older.

Local public health agencies and law enforcement should focus their enforcement of this directive on education, providing warnings and education about the risk of transmission, while reserving the imposition of penalties, trespass enforcement, and other formal enforcement mechanisms for only the most egregious, repeat violations that put the public at risk.

CLICK HERE to see the entire face covering directive from Governor Bullock.