DPHHS updates Phase 2 guidance for bars, restaurants

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services issued additional guidance to local health departments on June 2.

Trisha Gardner, health officer for Cascade County, mentioned the new guidance during the June 3 Board of Health meeting.

Montana moving to Phase 2 reopening on June 1

Beginning June 5, under the new guidelines, bar seating can be returned, with restrictions, and bars, restaurants, distilleries and breweries can stay open until 12:30 a.m. during Phase 2 of the state reopening plan. Previously, they were required to close at 11:30 p.m.

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To implement bar seating, the following measures must be followed, according to DPPHS’ document, unless an alternate measure has been approved by the local health department:

  • No bar seating within 6 feet of a well or taps, an area where drinks are passed to servers, ice machines, or other areas used to prepare or serve food or beverages;
  • Bars stools should be spaced 6 feet apart;
  • All patrons should have a place to sit; No standing and mingling allowed at the bar or elsewhere;
  • Keep all barstools 6 feet apart. If a group of 6 or less comes in and requests to be seated together, a staff member can group seat together and then re-space to 6ft once the group leaves;
  • Facilities should use discretion in accommodating group seating when considering group seating;
  • If 6ft cannot be maintained between patrons and servers/staff using well areas or taps, a physical barrier or closing wells may be used to protect servers/staff;
    • The barrier must be at least 36 inches high and offer enough protection to prevent employee exposure to droplets from anyone seated within 6 feet of either side of the serving area;
    • Wells taken out of use should be marked with a sign to remind staff.
  • Disinfect barstools and counter space between patrons;
  • No reusing drink coasters unless they can be disinfected between patrons;
  • No refilling glasses, new glass is needed for each order;
  • No shake-a-day unless dice and cup can be disinfected in-between patrons.
  • No community peanuts or other foods unless they can be served in individual containers.

Poker Rooms:

Beginning June 5, poker rooms are allowed in Phase 2 with the same goals of the bar seating.

Implementation measures:

  • Require everyone to sanitize their hands upon entering or reentering the card room.
  • Limit the number of available seats to six players in order to create some spacing between them.
  • Players will verbalize all bets and the dealer will physically handle all chip transactions.
  • All poker staff will wear masks.
  • Poker staff will sanitize and or wash hands in between each cash transaction.
  • Poker staff will sanitize tables, chairs, chips and cards with disinfectant products every day. They will use steam for the fabric on the chairs and the vinyl covering on the tables