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What Does Shelter-In-Place Mean?

On March 26, 2020, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a Shelter-In-Place directive in response to the growing COVID-19 outbreak. Under this order, only businesses deemed essential should be operating. Let’s discuss what this means for you.


What is considered an essential service?

The Department of Homeland Security issued guidance for what services and workers are considered essential. However, it is still up to individual states and municipalities to determine what qualifies as essential in their area.

Businesses like grocery markets, pharmacies, convenience stores, sanitation services, healthcare operations, daycare centers, gas stations, credit unions and banks, post offices, transportation services, among others are all essential.

Businesses like theaters, gyms, museums, casinos, sports venues etc., are recreational in nature are considered nonessential.


In Montana, essential services include businesses like:

  • chemical, communications, commercial facilities, and critical manufacturing
  • dams, defense industrial bases, and government facilities
  • emergency services and first responders
  • energy, transportation, and water services
  • financial and real estate services
  • food and agriculture
  • health care (doctors, dentists, vets)
  • information technology
  • childcare centers
  • grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, pharmacies, other retail stores that sell food, pet food, and beverages
  • laundromats
  • hardware stores
  • funeral homes
  • mail services (UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc.)


Other things you should know:

  • Restaurants are on the open list, but for takeout or delivery only.
  • Construction projects will continue.
  • Farmworkers and truck drivers are also considered essential
  • Essential businesses have to provide hand sanitizing products and, in some instances, designate special hours only for vulnerable populations.

Click here to view the list of these essential businesses.


What can you do under the Montana Stay at Home Order?

  • You can go seek medical services.
  • You can go to the grocery store, pharmacy, get gas for your vehicle, etc.
  • If you need to pick up school supplies, schoolwork, seek childcare etc., you can.
  • Court-ordered travel such as travel required for a custody agreement is also ok.
  • You can travel if you are going to take care of a loved one, seeking essential services or supplies, or going to work at a business designated essential.
    • If you work in/for an essential service, a note from your employer is not always explicitly required, though it might be a good idea.

Can I go for a walk or get outside?

  • You can also get outdoors for recreation like a walk, hike or bike ride. But, there are requirements:
    • You’re asked to avoid extreme sports/activities that could stress emergency resources.
    • You’re asked to not recreate in groups.
    • You have to comply with social distancing guidelines, meaning maintaining 6 feet of distance.