With more than 1,000 local businesses and churches getting ready to open again, the Butte Local Development Corp., along with the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce, hosted a “Reopening Butte-Silver Bow Community Call” Friday afternoon.
The “community call” was a way for city officials to lay out the guidelines for reopening, but also to emphasize that health and safety come first.
“We are here to help you, not hinder you,” said John Rolich, the county’s environmental health division director.
Rolich is cautiously optimistic, as the county has not had any new cases of COVID-19 in the past three weeks and the total number stands at 11.
Butte-Silver Bow will adhere to the guidelines Gov. Steve Bullock released Wednesday that set out his “phased approach” to safely reopening Montana.
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Some of the steadfast rules Rolich listed for local businesses include:
- Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds, followed by drying your hands using paper towels.
- Use hand sanitizer as a good secondary precaution.
- Common sense is a must. If you have to sneeze or cough, use your elbow as a cover.
- If you are ill, stay home.
- Continued physical distancing is critical to reducing the spread of the virus.
- Masks reduce the spread of particulates and protect others.
- It is important not only to spend extra time cleaning, but sanitizing as well.
Another of the county’s steadfast rules includes “six feet of distancing,” whether it be in church, retail stores, hair salons, bars, casinos or restaurants.
As for restaurants, no more than six people at a table will be allowed. In addition, tables must be six feet apart.
Hair salon customers must be six feet apart, and if that is not possible, it will be up to the salon to “stagger their appointments.”
The completion of the “social-distancing plan” is also a requirement for businesses, and the two-page document can be found on the county’s website.
Business owners, along with their employees must all complete the plan, sign it and return it to the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department by May 8.
”These plans are important,” said Rolich, “and we need to follow them.”
All plans will be viewed for adequacy and on a case-by-case basis, additional information may be requested.
Once approved, a placard will be issued to the business.
Many businesses do not fit the criteria for Gov. Bullock’s Phase One plan, including gyms and schools that teach indoor sports such as martial arts, karate, boxing and the like. For now, they remain a “no go.” The same holds true for dance recitals.
Little League teams can practice, but no games will be played.
Sixth- and eighth-grade public school events have been canceled.
As for Butte High School commencement, Superintendent Judy Jonart, the Butte School Board and school administrators continue to deliberate on that issue.
Butte Central has not made a decision yet.
Rolich acknowledged while some rules may seem harsh, they are for our protection.
“It’s a sacrifice for everyone,” he said.