Gov. Gianforte Issues New Directives, Executive Order Rescinding Mask Mandate
February 17, 2021 | View PDF
Helena - Governor Greg Gianforte has issued two new directives and an executive order.
The first directive rescinds and replaces all prior directives implementing Executive Order 2-2021, which the governor issued on Jan. 13, 2021.
Consistent with the governor’s announcement on Feb. 10, the new directive allows the statewide mask mandate to expire. Local jurisdictions may still choose to implement their own mask requirements.
“Since Jan. 5, I have provided a clear, consistent path to rescinding the mask mandate,” Governor Gianforte said. “First, we need to start getting the vaccine to our most vulnerable. Second, we need to protect businesses, nonprofits, places of worship, and health care providers from lawsuits if they make a good faith effort to protect individuals from the spread of coronavirus and follow clear public health guidelines. We have met both criteria, and the statewide mandate has expired.”
Governor Gianforte emphasized how providing incentives and encouraging personal responsibility are more effective than imposing impractical, unenforceable government mandates.
On Feb. 10, Governor Gianforte signed SB65 into law, which provides a liability shield to businesses, nonprofits and others who protect their workers, their customers and their clients from the spread of COVID-19.
“We will provide incentives to protect the health and safety of Montanans, and we will emphasize personal responsibility. Since we’re not out of the woods yet, I will continue wearing a mask and encourage all Montanans to do the same to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors,” Gianforte said.
As of last week, Montanans have administered more than 167,000 doses, and nearly 47,000 Montanans are fully immunized.
The state remains in Phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan, which the governor updated on Jan. 6 to protect the most vulnerable Montanans, including people 70 years of age and older, Montanans 16 years of age and older who have severe underlying medical conditions, and Native Americans and other persons of color who are at a heightened risk of severe COVID-19-related complications.
In keeping with the governor’s Jan. 13 directive, which removed restrictions on hours of service and capacity for businesses, this directive continues to encourage businesses to adopt industry best practices or public health guidance to protect their employees and customers.
The directive also continues to promote the use of tele-health services, protect vulnerable Montanans from eviction or foreclosure, ease licensing for health care professionals, and reduce regulatory burdens.
The second directive repeals the election-related directive dated Aug. 6, 2020. The governor also issued Executive Order 3-2021, which rescinds Executive Order 15-2018.
“Our Constitution makes it plain as day: the Legislature makes our laws, not the governor and not the courts,”Gianforte said. “It’s the responsibility of our Legislature to determine how Montana’s elections are conducted, and it’s the responsibility of our Legislature to determine whether an individual must disclose donations to a nonprofit group.”
“These issues are up to the Legislature now, which is where they should have been decided all along,” Gianforte said.