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Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said warning letters will be sent to two businesses sometime this week for violating COVID-19 restrictions.

Earlier this month, Gallatin County’s board of health passed new restrictions meant to slow the spread of coronavirus. The rules restrict most gatherings to 25 people, reduced most businesses’ capacity to 50% and required bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m.

Matt Kelley, county health officer, announced last week that some bars were not complying with the new closing time.

Lambert said he’s waiting to get documentation from Bozeman and Belgrade police for warning letters for the bars staying open past 10 p.m., but declined to name the businesses. He said police are ensuring every night that businesses are in compliance with the new rules.

“I’m confident that there will be two (letters) coming out of my office,” he said.

The 10 p.m. closing time will soon become a statewide rule. Gov. Steve Bullock announced a new set of statewide virus-related restrictions that will go into effect on Friday that mirror what’s already in place in Gallatin County. The restrictions include businesses closing at 10 p.m., operating at no more than 50% capacity and limiting tables to no more than six people.

Bullock also announced that the state would be providing more money for business impacted by the virus, but said the money would be contingent on businesses following the health rules.

“These are decisions that I don’t take lightly, yet they are a necessity,” Bullock said after rolling out the restrictions.

Lambert said he hoped the businesses would voluntarily come in compliance with the new health rules before having to send letters.

He said the letters would make clear what remedies might be sought, and that he hopes the issues can be resolved before taking formal actions. In the past, businesses found violating health rules related to the virus complied after receiving similar warning letters.

“I hope, again, that I don’t have to be in court with any individual or any business pertaining to enforcement of the health board’s rules or Matt Kelley’s orders,” Lambert said.

Kelley also declined to name the businesses violating the rules because warning letters had not yet been sent. He said the health department is working with the county attorney’s office and law enforcement agencies to put out as much information related to the virus and new rules as it can.

“We are determined to do everything we can to make sure that the board of health rule is implemented and followed,” he said.

Kelley said the health department needs help from law enforcement agencies that have the authority to issue citations to businesses or individuals violating health orders. He said that’s one piece to better enforce the health rules.

“The county attorney and I have communicated that to law enforcement agencies,” Kelley said.

Kelley said the 10 p.m. curfew is something that the health department thinks is pretty easy to understand and follow. And it’s pretty clear when businesses are violating that.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at or at 406-582-2630.