On Thursday, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a statewide stay-at-home order to all Montanans to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. According to County Attorney Kirsten Pabst, “all systems are go” at the Missoula County Attorney’s Office. She said there are four essential components to this new Directive.

“The first is stay home,” Pabst said. “The second is that businesses are required to close with some exceptions. The governor has required social distancing at all junctures of society. Even if an activity falls in exception to the rule, social distancing measures are still required. There is also a pretty significant travel ban.”

There has been a lot of talk about social distancing the past few weeks, but legally speaking, Pabst says there are several things Montanans must adhere to.

“You must remain six feet away at all times from other people,” Pabst said. “If you are an essential business, you have to have hand sanitizer available and it needs to be accessible. In addition, separate hours for vulnerable populations should be established. To the extent possible, you need to provide your services online or remotely.”

Pabst said the Missoula County Attorney’s Office has been ordered to enforce these Directives.

“Investigative agencies would be our health officer, which is Ellen Leahy and her employees at the City-County Health Department, and local law enforcement,” Pabst said. “There are all several types of penalties associated with violation of the governor’s order. Some of the enforcement remedies include the state filing for injunctive relief, order compliance, and possible criminal penalty. We definitely don’t want to get to that point.”