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Montana County Attorneys Prepare To Enforce Stay At Home Directive

The marque at the Babcock Theater in Billings reads "Wash Your Hands, We Will Be Back."
Nicky Ouellet
Yellowstone Public Radio
The marque at the Babcock Theater in billings reads "Wash Your Hands, We Will Be Back."

Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s stay at home directive goes into effect at midnight through April 10.

County attorneys are to enforce the directive that prohibits Montanans from leaving their homes, with exceptions for essential trips to access food, medical care, low-risk recreation and some exempted work.

Missoula County Attorney Kristen Pabst says officials are preparing for potential violations.

“We would start with education and warnings. We have the option of filing for a civil injunction as well as filing charges if necessary," Pabst says.

Pabst says Missoula county’s goal is not to be punitive while enforcing the order and officials hope people will follow the stay at home rules.

"And the reason we want people to comply with them is we are trying to do our part and flatten the curve of this disease," she says.

In Yellowstone County, law enforcement agencies say they stand behind the governor’s stay at home directive and its intent to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In a joint statement the Billings Police Department, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office and Laurel Police Department say they encourage everyone to abide by the order.

They plan to continue patrol and respond to normal calls for service, with increased attention to vulnerable targets like vacated schools and businesses. They add officers will document blatant, egregious and repeated violations of the stay at home directive and refer to the county attorney.

Health officials say the best way to prevent spread of the coronavirus is frequently washing hands and often-touched surfaces; not touching your face and maintaining six feet distance from other people.


Corin Cates-Carney is the Flathead Valley reporter for MTPR.