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HELENA — All travelers entering or returning to the state of Montana should self-quarantine, according to a directive issued by Gov. Steve Bullock on Monday, March 30.

The directive applies to residents and non-residents entering Montana from another state or country for non-work-related purposes. The self-quarantine should last for 14 days or the duration of the trip, whichever is shorter, the directive said.

The directive said that travel from another state or country is the most common source of COVID-19 infections in Montana. 

“While we love our visitors, we would ask that you not come visit while Montanans are watching out for one another by staying at home,” Bullock said in a release announcing the directive. “This is important not only to protect our health care system, but also to protect against the spread of COVID-19.”

Bullock also authorized the Montana National Guard to check the temperature and screen the potential exposure history of travelers arriving in Montana at airports and rail stations from out of state. If a traveler has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, or is “otherwise assessed to have COVID-19 symptoms,” the Montana National Guard will refer the person to a health care provider, who will notify the local health department where the traveler intends to quarantine. The directive also applies to individuals who have had close contact with an infected person.

The governor’s order also requires hotels and vacation rental companies to notify out-of-state renters about the requirement. 

On Friday, Montana Free Press reported that vacation rental data suggested people may be seeking shelter in Montana from COVID-19 hotspots outside the state. Statewide, revenue estimates for short-term rentals increased year over year between 2019 and 2020 from $5.3 million to $9.4 million for the period March 1 through March 16, according to research from AirDNA, a short-term rental analysis firm. 

Health officials in counties neighboring Yellowstone and Glacier national parks asked officials to close both parks because of concerns about tourists transmitting COVID-19 and overwhelming rural counties’ limited health care infrastructure. Both Yellowstone and Glacier announced indefinite closures last week.

“I am asking anyone who is in Montana and has recently traveled from another state or country to do the right thing and self-quarantine for 14 days,” Bullock said in the release.

The requirements are effective through April 10, the same day Montana’s current stay-at-home directive is set to expire. The directive is enforceable by county attorneys.

Johnathan Hettinger is a journalist based in Livingston. Originally from Central Illinois and a graduate of the University of Illinois, he has worked at the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, the Livingston Enterprise and the (Champaign-Urbana) News-Gazette. Contact Johnathan at and follow him on Twitter.