Public, businesses asked to do part to follow governor’s face mask directive

| July 22, 2020 1:00 AM

Local health officials are asking the public and businesses to do their part to adhere to Gov. Steve Bullock’s mandate on wearing masks.

Bullock issued the directive last Wednesday, requiring face coverings at indoor public spaces and at larger outdoor gatherings in counties with four or more active cases of COVID-19.

Flathead County reported a total of 40 active cases on Tuesday. Statewide there are 1,179 active cases.

“We know that businesses already have a lot on their plate at this time,” Hillary Hanson, health officer of the Flathead City-County Health Department, said in a media release Thursday. “Masking is important to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We request that community members are patient as businesses make the necessary adjustments to adopt and enforce Governor Bullock’s most recent directive. We also ask that you assist the businesses by following the mandate and providing your own mask.”

According to the directive, the mask mandate is enforceable “only against businesses and other persons who are responsible for indoor spaces open to the public, or sponsors of organized outdoor activities as defined in this directive.”

Regarding enforcement, the directive states that local public health agencies and law enforcement should focus on “providing warnings and education about the risk of transmission,” while reserving penalties ”for only the most egregious, repeat violations that put the public at risk.”

“If such a person refuses to wear a face covering and refuses to leave the premises, a peace officer may enforce the state’s trespassing laws and any other laws the person may violate,” the directive states.

People who would like to report a concern related to the directive may do so online on the Flathead City-County Health Department website at www.flatheadhealth.org/masking. Individuals with additional questions can call the Montana COVID-19 Informational line at 1-888-333-0461. ■