Bit by bit, life in Missoula County will begin to resemble as much normalcy as possible with new pronouncements from Health Officer Ellen Leahy on the opening of hair salons, barber shops and other personal care businesses.

In a press conference on Friday, Leahy laid out the new rules.

“We have put together with help from experts in the industry for more requirements to help mitigate the risk of contact that does exist within that six-foot zone, and a nice long list of recommendations from people who are actually involved in those practices,” said Leahy. “We will require a short and pretty simple plan from each business about how they’re going to implement the guidelines, because the businesses, between massage therapies, a barber shop, aesthetician, waxing or a simple haircut are very, very different, and they’re laid out differently.”

Leahy said if those shops follow the new rules, they may resume their business.

“We will request that plan,” she said. “They do not have to turn it in but we do want them to have it on hand. That way, if we get a complaint we’ll be able to talk to the business. If that’s in place and they’ve been able to train their employees about what the symptoms are and have a plan for not coming to work, then they can open effective Monday, May 11th.”

Leahy said negotiations and conversations with officials in the Farmer’s Market have also borne fruit.

“With a similar plan with six foot distancing, the Farmer’s Market can be as large as 250 people at any given time, I don’t know that we’ll see that happen, but we’ll keep in mind that the 250 includes counting all the various vendors that we often see,” she said. “They will be able to open with their plan by May 23rd.”

Leahy also tackled the emotional issue of high school graduation ceremonies and the parties that will follow.

“I am going to limit graduation sizes to 250 with a social distancing plan and work with the schools with our staff to help them accomplish that,” she said. “That is my decision and I have received message of cooperation from the affected school districts, but if you’re unhappy with the decision as I’m sure some people will be, then those calls should come to me.”

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