At a bill signing ceremony in Helena on Wednesday, Governor Greg Gianforte stated that he would lift the statewide mask mandate as of Friday.

In addition to increasing numbers of Montanans being vaccinated, the Governor had just signed Senate Bill 65 into law, the bill that provides protections for businesses, nonprofits and churches from lawsuits as long as they provide common sense protections against the spread of Coronavirus.

“First, we need to start getting the vaccine to our most vulnerable,” said Gianforte. “We have done that. Second, we need to protect businesses, nonprofits, places of worship and health care providers from lawsuits. We have done that too. As a result, I will provide a directive on Friday morning that will allow the existing statewide mask mandate to expire.”

Gianforte said that local governments may follow their own dictates as to whether to end mask mandates.
“Local jurisdictions may still choose to implement local mask mandates, but the state will no longer have one,” he said. “As I've said, we will continue to provide incentives to protect the health and safety of Montanans and we will emphasize personal responsibility over mandates.”

Gianforte said Montana still has a long way to go in ending the pandemic, but he wanted to fulfill his campaign promise of ending the statewide masking mandate.

“Since we're not out of the woods yet, I will continue to wear a mask and I encourage all Montanans to do the same to protect themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors,” he said. “When it's my turn to get a vaccine, I'm going to get one and I encourage all Montanans to do the same, because when it comes down to it, I trust Montanans and together we can combat this public health and economic pandemic with personal responsibility by looking out for one another.”

Speaking of added vaccine numbers, Gianforte said he has been communicating with the White House about increasing the number of doses to be allocated to Montana.

“I was on a call this week with the White House,” he said. “They expect increased vaccines to be in modest increases over the next couple of weeks, and we're hopeful that we'll see this Johnson and Johnson vaccine approved for emergency use by the end of the month. So that provides promise as well.”

Also at the signing ceremony at the State capitol on Wednesday were Senate President Mark Blasdel (SD-4), Speaker of the House Wylie Galt (HD-30), Senator Steve Fitzpatrick (SD-10), Chair of the Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee, and Representative Mark Noland (HD-10), Chair of the House Business and Labor Committee.

 

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