Yellowstone National Park's Montana entrances open Monday

Sam Klomhaus – Enterprise Staff Writer
Thursday, May 28, 2020
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Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

The Roosevelt Arch at Gardiner, Yellowstone National Park's historic North Entrance.

Yellowstone National Park's Montana entrances will open Monday, the park announced in a press release Thursday.

Gov. Steve Bullock said in a Thursday press conference the state is working with local communities and public health in destination communities to make sure they have enough resources as Montana enters phase two of reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

The gates in Gardiner, West Yellowstone and Cooke City will open at 10 a.m. Monday, the release said. The Wyoming gates opened May 18.

The entire Grand Loop Road will now be open except for the segment between Canyon and Tower, the release said, which is closed for road construction.

The reopening coincides with Gov. Bullock moving Montana into phase two and lifting the mandatory 14-day quarantine order for out-of-state travelers.

Welcoming visitors back to the state will be a slow and gradual process, Bullock said, and visitors should heed state and local restrictions, as well as those set up by businesses.

Businesses need to educate visitors to help them understand risks, Bullock said.

“We must remain fully committed to social distancing, the governor said.

Bullock said virus testing has increased in destination communities over the past few weeks. He said one goal is to test more of the population regularly, especially those who interact with visitors.

Focusing tests on front-line workers will make it easier to identify and prevent outbreaks, Bullock said. He also said about 150 national guardsmen are available to serve as contact tracers if needed.

Bullock also announced a new $20 million grant program to reimburse businesses for expenses related to keeping employees and customers safe, such as hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment.

The program is called the Montana Business Adaptation Grant, and up to $5,000 is available for each business.

Bullock also said there is about $15 million in Cares Act funding to inform and educate visitors in a statewide information campaign.

The state will work particularly closely with Gallatin and Park Counties to help with dealing with visitors to Yellowstone, Bullock said.

Asked about businesses potentially facing a shortage of seasonal employees because they can’t travel from other places, Bullock said that’s something businesses and the Department of Labor will be looking at.

According to the release, Yellowstone Park has made significant efforts to mitigate the potential spread of the virus, including encouraging the use of masks and providing protective barriers.

Bullock said the park has worked to address the state’s concerns about tours and highly-trafficked areas.

Visitors should follow all Centers For Disease Control and local health guidelines and practice good hygiene and social distancing, the release said.

Bullock said the second week of June is the target for a phased reopening of Glacier National Park, but there is no specific date yet.