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More Bozeman area businesses have temporarily closed because of exposure to COVID-19 as Montana’s new case counts and death toll continue to rise.

Rocking R Bar posted an update on its Facebook page on Thursday evening announcing that, while no Rocking R staff has tested positive, the bar will be closed from July 9 to July 12.

“Due to contact tracing of (COVID-19) we have decided to close,” the bar posted.

Owner Mike Hope did not respond to phone calls Friday.

Hail Mary’s, the restaurant that operates inside the Rocking R Bar, will remain open for takeout orders while the bar is closed.

Earlier this week, Hope led an effort to get businesses with alcohol licenses to require employees who interact with customers to wear face masks to help limit the spread. Nearly 40 Bozeman businesses, a majority of them downtown, signed on to voluntarily require all front-of-house staff to wear face coverings. Several downtown bars were recently warned by the Gallatin City-County Health Department for violating emergency health rules, but Rocking R Bar was not one of them.

The Starbucks, at 1122 W. Main St., has also closed out of an “abundance of caution” after an employee experienced symptoms similar to the symptoms of COVID-19, according to a Starbucks corporate spokesperson.

The spokesperson said in an email to the Chronicle that there are no confirmed positive cases at the location and it is tentatively scheduled to reopen sometime next week.

Earlier this week, Open Range, Bozeman Optical and Montana’s Rib & Chop House in Livingston all closed because of exposure to the virus. Rib & Chop House and Open Range each had an employee test positive; it’s unclear whether the source of the exposure at Bozeman Optical was an employee, a customer or someone else.

Montana has the largest percentage increase in daily cases for all 50 states, according to a New York Times analysis. Over the past seven days, according to the report, Montana’s percent change in daily positive cases has gone up more than 2,200%.

The state set another record high for new cases Friday with 127 confirmed positive cases. Prior to the shutdown in March, the highest new case count was 35 on March 16.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at or at (406) 582-2651.