GREAT FALLS - The Cascade City-County Health Department board of health voted to adopt and implement a mask mandate in the county.
The adoption and implementation of universal masking means universal masking in Cascade County except in these conditions:
Children under the age of five
Those eating food or drinking in an establishment that offers food or drinks for sale
Those engaging in activity that makes wearing a face-covering impractical or unsafe
Those seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired; or those giving a speech or engaging in an artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical performance for an audience, provided the audience is separated at least six feet of distance
Those temporarily removing their face covering for identification purposes
Those required to remove face coverings for the purpose of receiving a medical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment
Those who have a medical condition precluding to the safe wearing of a face covering
Those who can maintain social distancing when outside their home or place of employment.
During the Board of Health meeting, the health department adopted control measures for universal masking as well as allowing gatherings and events up to 75% of the venue’s capacity when social distancing can be maintained.
Events over 75% of venue capacity will be considered on a case-by-case basis with the submission of an event plan to CCHD.
The two control measures will remain in place until the per capita spread of the virus is at or below 10 per 100,000 for two consecutive weeks.
The Cascade City-County Health Department also says since their goal of four consecutive weeks with a case rate of 25/100,000 or less, all restrictions on business hours and capacity have been lifted, and venue capacity for special events/gatherings has been increased.
Although most board members agreed with the decision, some shared a different opinion.
"Just from a practical standpoint, what you're really saying is that local businesses can't make a decision. I don't think that's appropriate. If you can't enforce a rule, if you can't enforce a law then why pass it," said Cascade County Commissioner Joe Briggs.
"Montana High School Association has already ruled that there will be a limitation on the number of spectators. 500 spectators per team will be allowed and any particular time,” said Superintendent Tom Moore for Great Falls Public Schools.