Officials: Livingston mask situation improving

Sam Klomhaus — Enterprise Staff Writer
Thursday, July 30, 2020

Most of the opposition to Gov. Bullock’s mask mandate in the Livingston area has come from locals rather than tourists, Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Leslie Feigel said in a conference call Thursday.

The Park County Health Department organized the call to give local business owners and others some clarity on Park County’s mask requirements if needed.

The governor’s order requires people in indoor public spaces and certain outdoor gatherings to wear face coverings if they are in a county with four or more active COVID-19 cases.

Park County Health Officer Laurel Desnick noted the county hasn’t strengthened the governor’s mask mandate other than removing the four active cases requirement from the mandate.

“It’s kind of an edgy moment,” Desnick said. “There’s fear and there’s also frustration.”

Although the negative attitudes toward masks are mostly from locals, Feigel said, she is seeing a curve in overall attitudes toward the mandate.

Feigel said the situation in Park County has kind of been all over the place, but seems to be calming down and improving as businesses get more consistent and prominent signage reminding people they have to wear masks.

There are a lot of people in the county who still haven’t gotten masks, Feigel said, including travelers.

“People are going to turn the tide and realize this is part of life,” Feigel said.

Desnick said businesses should contact local law enforcement if people are refusing to comply with the mask order.

If people are being hostile, refusing to leave and putting folks in danger that’s not a mask issue, it’s a safety issue, Desnick said.

Park County reported three confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the county’s total to 47 cases overall during the pandemic, with 11 active cases.

Xanterra general manager for Yellowstone Mike Keller said the park has definitely seen a change in mask usage as mask wearing has become more prominent, although there has been some vocal opposition to wearing masks.

When asked how Xanterra deals with people who are against wearing masks, Keller said he prefers those situations be handled by managers rather than front-line workers.

Masks are required in Xanterra properties, but Yellowstone National Park itself does not have a mask requirement.

Keller said numbers in the park are up compared to last year and the year before.

“It’s very busy down here,” he said.

Desnick said the COVID-19 situation in Park County is still quite good, and complimented Livingston’s business community for taking steps to slow the spread of the virus, although she said she would rather businesses stay open.

“Honestly we want businesses open,” Desnick said. “Closing temporarily to get things together is fine, but we want to keep things moving.”