The Missoula County Board of Health will hold a public meeting via Microsoft Teams on Thursday, January 21 from 12:15 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Of great interest to the public and the Missoula business community will be addressing the COVID 19 requirements for bars, casinos, restaurants, breweries and distilleries.

Jeanna Miller, Environmental Health Branch Director for the COVID 19 response at the Missoula City County Health Department described one of the agenda items that will be discussed at the online meeting.

“The Board of Health is considering amending their current local health board orders that apply to bars, restaurants, casinos and breweries,” said Miller. “Probably most conspicuous would be that the current 10:00 p.m. closing time would be removed and that's kind of an exchange for some other more protective measures such as distancing and spacing.”

Miller said the new rules will make most bars operate like a sit-down restaurant, where ordering at the bar will not be allowed.

“Patrons in a bar usually to go up to the bar to order a drink, however this would shift the kind of service in a bar to look just like a restaurant,” she said. “Everybody would be seated at all times. You have to be at your seat to be to order a drink or be served, so it kind of makes a bar look and operate a lot more like a restaurant. There's no mixing or mingling or crowding of people, especially up at a bar where distancing is pretty difficult.”

Miller said the specifics of the plan are still under consideration.

“I guess it's good to note that none of it's been decided right now,” she said. “There's some draft language in a proposal but ultimately the Health Board makes a final decision on Thursday. The current rule proposal does not specify a closing time. So it would be at the discretion of bar and casino owners up and until the current 2:00 a.m. that's allowed by the Department of Revenue.”

Miller said that face masks will be required at all times unless a patron is actually eating or drinking.

“Unless folks are actively eating or drinking, they do have to have a face covering or a mask on,” she said. That would that would mean that while people are walking into their table and ordering and waiting for their food and beverages, and also as soon as they're done eating and maybe finished with their drink and waiting for another one or whatever it may be, we do ask people to put their masks on.”

The Board of Health meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams and the public is invited to attend and call in questions at 406-272-4824.


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