Board of Health approves emergency COVID rules as hedge against changes to state directives
December 24, 2020
The Lewis and Clark City-County Board of Health passed "Emergency Rules and Regulations in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic" on Thursday, Dec. 17.
Many of the guidelines in the document mirror requirements currently in place through Governor's Directives issued over the past nine months. However, with Governor-elect Gianforte slated to take office in January, the County rules and regulations will be in place and enforceable even if state regulations loosen.
According to Montana Code, local Boards of Health can implement more stringent regulations than state standards.
The regulations include a requirement for all locations with indoor space open to the public to conduct a health assessment of employees at the beginning of each shift, and for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to be sent home.
Face coverings will be required in all indoor spaces open to the public, including businesses, government offices and schools, and persons responsible for those spaces are responsible for ensuring compliance, as well as for providing face coverings for employees and volunteers.
Event restrictions remain in line with the current Governor's Directive, where events and gatherings of more than 250 people are prohibited. Organizers of gatherings of more than 25 people must submit a form with a detailed plan to Lewis and Clark Public Health at least 30 days before the event. The only exception noted is that schools are exempt from the 250 person limit if they have an approved plan with Lewis and Clark Public Health.
The document allows for several exemptions, including for children under the age of five, persons eating or drinking in establishments where food or drinks are for sale, persons engaged in activities where wearing a face covering is impractical or unsafe, such as strenuous physical exercise, and persons seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired.
The document also states that accommodations should be made to the rules and regulations for those entitled under federal and state disability protection laws.
The regulations identify a set of six triggering criteria to determine whether all, some, or none of the regulations will be in effect. These criteria include health care capacity, testing capacity and community compliance. The scale ranges from 0-46. All regulations go into effect if the triggering criteria are 33 or higher, and no regulations arein effect if the triggering criteria are 18 or below.
According to the rules and regulations document, the Health Officer will issue an order every two weeks announcing which rules and regulations are currently in effect.