Phase One: Madison County
REOPENING PARTS OF THE COMMUNITY AND ECONOMY
Madison County’s stay at home order for certain businesses lifted April 27 under guidelines for a phased reopening in a COVID-19 world. Bars and restaurants will have to adhere to similar rules of operation when they are allowed to open May 4.
The Madison County Board of Health’s decision to expire closure directives with the state bares more responsibility on the communities. The Madison County Sanitarian Department and Madison County Public Health Department will be working closely together to regulate and mitigate further spreading of the novel coronavirus.
“There are specific guidelines,” Madison County Public Health Nurse Melissa Brummel said. “If they can’t do it, they can’t open.”
High-risk individuals should continue to stay at home due to the present threat of COVID-19.
Businesses through all phases of reopening must implement policies in accordance to federal, state and local regulations and guidelines to social distancing, protective equipment, sanitation and screening employees.
MCSD is the county’s authority on environmental health, regulating licensed facilities like restaurants, bars, hotels, motels and food stores. MCPHD is the authority on public health, dealing with individuals and the spread of disease. MCSD aims to educate its licensed facilities about the intricate web of new operational rules. Madison County’s sanitarian, Van Puckett, said violations are usually an easy alteration or clarification. But a continued blatant disregard of the guidelines could result in MCSD revoking the license.
‘There’s a lot of regulatory hoops,” Puckett said. “It’s frustrating for businesses sometimes.”
According to the governor’s directive, which Madison County adopted, all directives that the Department of Public Health and Human Services is a part of is a public health order. The Attorney General, DPHHS, a county attorney or other local authorities under the direction of a county attorney can enforce public health orders. Local public health agencies are directed to assist in the administration of the public health order.
The directive for people coming into Montana from other states or countries to quarantine for 14 days will be effective until the end of the emergency. People visiting Montana for less than 14 days have to be isolated their entire stay. It is uncertain how Madison County’s tourism will affect guideline compliance. Tourism is supported at some level, being one of the county’s driving economies and approaching peak season. But individual responsibility, like good hygiene and keeping at least 6 feet apart from others, is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection.
“We’re expecting more cases,” Brummel said. “People can’t be out and the virus not infect some.”