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Montana to reopen churches, some businesses

Montana to reopen churches, some businesses
© Greg Nash

Montana will reopen places of worship and some businesses this weekend and early next week as part of a phased reopening as a statewide stay-at-home order expires Sunday, Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Down ballot races carry environmental implications | US officially exits Paris climate accord  GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte wins Montana governor's race Senate control in flux as counting goes forward in key states MORE (D) said Wednesday.  

Retail businesses can open Monday if they adhere to additional requirements, such as maintaining strict physical distancing. 

Places of worship can open on Sunday, and also must maintain social distancing guidelines between people who are not members of the same household. 

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Restaurants and bars will remain closed for dine-in service until May 4, and businesses such as movie theaters and gyms will remain closed. 

On May 7, schools will have the option to return to in-classroom teaching. School boards, however, will have the option to declare local emergencies to continue to receive appropriate state funding to provide remote learning. 

Out of state travelers and Montanans arriving from another state or country back to Montana for non-work related purposes will still be required to quarantine for 14 days. 

Bullock warned that despite lifting some coronavirus restrictions, it is not a time for “celebration.” 

“While there is reason for optimism this is not a time for celebration,” Bullock said in a statement. “I am going to ask Montanans to continue to go to great lengths to protect one another, to continue looking out for our neighbors who need it the most, and to continue being vigilant in every step we take.”

He said the plan to lift restrictions is based on science and evidence, noting the number of positive cases has declined over the past weeks. 

Montana has the lowest percentage of positive cases per capita and the lowest number of hospitalizations per capita in the nation, according to the state. 

On Wednesday Montana reported 439 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 14 deaths.