The days that nearly a million Montanans have been waiting for the state to reopen for business were announced by Governor Steve Bullock at a press conference in Helena on Wednesday afternoon. He first announced that the stay at home order will be lifted this weekend.

“Starting this Sunday, the stay at home order will be lifted,” began Bullock. “As of this Sunday places of worship if they so choose, can reopen for services with reduced capacity and more strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained between non-household members. Families can sit together but for the safety of the congregation there has to be sufficient room between families.”

The next day, Monday April 28, main street businesses will be allowed to reopen.

“Starting next Monday, April 28th main street businesses can reopen their doors,” he said. “Retail stores must have capacity and will have to set out limitations of physical distancing. The same goes starting April 28th for personal care businesses, such as hairdressers. I recognize that it’s impossible to provide six feet of social distancing when while you’re getting a haircut or a tattoo. The guidelines that we’re putting out today set forth ways to minimize that risk and local health departments may well provide additional or other guidance.”

The next phase will include reopening for restaurants, bars, taverns, breweries and tap houses.

“Starting the following Monday on May 4th, restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, distilleries and bars can go from providing take-out to some in-establishment services,” he said. “Restaurants can operate at most at half of the normal capacity and no more than six people can sit together and there has to be plenty of space between tables. You won’t be able to sit at the bar to drink, and all customers will have to be out of the establishment by 11:30 p.m.”

Finally, Bullock rescinded the order to close the state’s schools.

“Two weeks from today on Wednesday, May 7th, I’m lifting the requirement that our schools be closed to in-classroom learning,” he said. “That decision, as well as local control of whether to resume classes or to continue with remote learning will return to your locally elected school boards.”

Bullock asked Montanans to continue practicing safe distancing and to wash their hands often and follow other safety protocols while the state goes through the phases of reopening.

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The days that nearly a million Montanans have been waiting for the state to reopen for business have been announced by Governor Steve Bullock at a press conference in Helena this afternoon.

Bullock announced that main street businesses, clothing stores, beauty salons and hairdressers and tattoo parlors may reopen on April 28, while maintaining all possible social distancing and protecting employees and customers with gloves and face coverings whenever possible.

The following week on May 4, restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen, but with no more than six people at a table and at least six feet between each table. Bars and restaurants will close at 11:30 p.m.

Then, on May 7 school closures will be lifted and the governor said each individual school district will present their own rules and regulations, and can begin making what he called ‘creative plans’ for high school graduation ceremonies.

Bullock said the travel ban will remain in effect, which will continue to affect airlines and train travel.

KGVO will provide more details on this breaking story in the next few hours, including comments from MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson.