MISSOULA, Mont. — The leaders of Montana's chambers of commerce and many tourism organizations are calling on the public to wear masks or face coverings to protect the health of Montana communities.
"Montana relies on tourism, and the ability of visitors to travel safely into, around and out of the state is critical to our economy’s recovery. According to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana, in May of 2020, a full 44% of Montana tourism business owners said that under current conditions, their businesses could only survive another six months or fewer. Another 22% said they could only last up to a year. The impact of the pandemic is devastating to our economy and wearing masks can lessen this impact," according to Lucy Guthrie Beighle from Glacier Country Tourism.
The following release was sent out by Glacier Country Tourism:
As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in the state of Montana, we, leaders at Montana’s chambers of commerce and destination marketing organizations, join our business friends and colleagues throughout the state in calling on the public to wear masks or cloth face coverings to protect the health and viability of the communities we represent.
In order for us to continue reopening or remain open as a state, it is imperative that we slow the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends mask-wearing to help slow the spread of the virus, which in turn can help our businesses to remain open. Wearing masks not only help keep our residents healthy, but will also allow our tourism-dependent economy to recover at a faster rate. To date, we are one of the few states not mandating this. When we voluntarily do our part, we forestall the need for more restrictive measures.
There is a misconception that COVID-19 is being brought to Montana by out-of-state visitors. Although this may have been true in a handful of cases, most cases in Montana have been caused by community spread amongst our residents, according to local health departments and the state’s Department of Emergency Services.
As residents of Montana, we must set the example for our community and our visitors—wear masks when social distancing is not possible, whether indoors or out.
For the health of our communities, both physical and economic, we support and encourage the use of masks by residents and visitors alike.