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Since the local health board enacted new COVID-19 restrictions last week, the health department has received reports of businesses failing to follow the new rules, Gallatin City-County Health Officer Matt Kelley said on Friday.

The new restrictions limit most gatherings to 25 people, reduce most businesses’ capacity to 50% and require bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m.

Kelley said a few bars have “elected” not to close at 10 p.m.

The health department is now working with those businesses and local law enforcement officers to ensure compliance, Kelley said.

Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said warning letters might be sent to some establishments depending on the results of the health department’s and local law enforcement officers’ work.

At a health board meeting last week, several bars said that closing at 10 p.m. — 2.5 hours earlier than previously allowed — would cut so deeply into their profits they might have to lay off employees or even close.

Even so, Kelley said businesses and individuals need to follow the rules.

“As a community, we have a choice, I think. The first choice is that we come together, we think of those around us, we stay home when we’re sick, we stay out of large group gatherings and we stay out of places like bars and parties. If we do that, we have a chance to limit disease spread,” he said. “… This won’t be easy, but the alternative path is much harder.”

The health department is not considering any additional restrictions at this time, Kelley said. Instead, he said individuals and businesses need to follow the existing rules and local law enforcement agencies and elected officials need to help the health department enforce them.

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Perrin Stein can be reached at or at 582-2648.