Montana discouraging visits, but the border remains open

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Although Montana has not closed its borders, Gov. Steve Bullock has specifically asked people not to visit the state while residents there “shelter-in-place.”

On Monday, Bullock issued a statement saying that, “While we love our visitors, we would ask that you not come visit while Montanans are watching out for one another by staying at home.” He said domestic and international travel is the most common source of COVID-19 infections in the state.

Bullock issued a directive saying that “it is essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the State of Montana during the ongoing state of emergency that all travelers, including Montanans, arriving in Montana from another state or country for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days or for the duration of the person’s presence in Montana, whichever is shorter.”

However, according to the governor’s office, the order doesn’t apply to people making day trips to the state — such as Powell area residents taking a quick trip up to Billings.

“People are only required to quarantine if they choose to stay in Montana,” said Bulllock’s press secretary, Erin Loranger. “If they are traveling across the state line to buy groceries and go back home to Wyoming after, they do not fall under the governor’s order and do not need to quarantine.”

Though no checkpoints have been set up, the governor has authorized the Montana National Guard to assess travelers for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure history, including checking temperatures.

“If a traveler has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, is otherwise assessed to have COVID-19 symptoms, or who has had close contact with an infected person, the Montana National Guard will refer the individual for assessment by a healthcare provider,” the document reads.

The directive is currently set to run through April 10.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has expressed reluctance to issue a shelter-in-place order, imploring residents to voluntarily stay at home.

—By Kevin Killough

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