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The Gallatin City-County Board of Health voted Wednesday to allow gyms, museums and movie theaters to reopen on Friday.

The county rule now aligns with the statewide reopening guidelines, which Gov. Steve Bullock revised last week to include the three additional types of businesses.

The board voted 7-0, with member Justin Kamerman absent, to follow the new state rules.

The state and local guidelines say that when gyms, museums and movie theaters reopen, they must operate at half capacity, require social distancing and use strict cleaning protocols.

Several gyms, including the Ridge Athletic Club in Bozeman and The Gym of Belgrade, have announced they will open on Friday.

The Museum of the Rockies said in an email that it is planning times for members to visit from May 28 to May 31 and will open to the public on June 3. Details regarding hours and new policies will be available in the coming weeks.

The Regal Gallatin Valley in Bozeman and Lone Peak Cinema in Big Sky did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their reopening plans.

The additional openings come as the number of new coronavirus cases in Gallatin County has plateaued, said Matt Kelley, health officer for the Gallatin City-County Health Department.

In the last week, the county added three new cases. They are all in West Yellowstone and connected to a family who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from out of state.

The new cases are not a reason to reverse the reopening, Kelley said.

“We’re not looking for what happens if we have one or two or three new cases,” he said. “We’re looking for trends over time. My concern here would be a regular increase in the number of cases day after day.”

As of Wednesday, the county had a total of 149 cases, with 145 recoveries and one death.

Montana added one new case in Yellowstone County on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 462 cases. Sixteen of those are active.

The state and local guidelines for gyms, museums and movie theaters include requirements for dozens of new safety protocols.

Gyms can only open to members. Staff members should wear masks and members are encouraged to do so as well.

Indoor group classes remain prohibited, but one-on-one personal training is permitted and outdoor classes are allowed as long as they have a maximum of 10 participants who stay 6 feet apart.

Pools, spas, hot springs and hot tubs at public accommodations, such as hotels and motels, can open to guests. Gym pools can also open to members. Other pools — like the Bozeman Swim Center and the Bogert Pool — must remain closed.

Movie theaters should place clear plastic shields between workers and customers wherever possible. At museums, interactive exhibits must stay closed.

As the gradual reopening continues, businesses that must remain closed have criticized the county and the state.

“There are a lot of people being left out and there is definitely frustration in that,” Kelley said.

Carolyn Williams, who owns Zephyr Cycling Studio in Bozeman, requested she be allowed to offer classes because she has developed health and safety protocols in line with those required for gyms.

“I find the guidance from the state conflicting and wonder why gyms would be allowed to open with appropriately spaced cardio equipment, but a space like Zephyr’s, which gathers fewer people on a regular basis in a structured … clean environment would not be given the same opportunity,” she said in an email to the health board.

Jamie Rogers, weekend bar manager for The Bozeman Bowl, said in an interview that it’s been disheartening to see bowling alleys excluded from the new rules. The Bozeman Bowl has been allowed to open its bar and pro shop, but without opening the bowling alley, he said the business is struggling.

He and other staff members have developed safety standards based on recommendations from the United States Bowling Congress, so they don’t understand why they have to wait to open.

“We’re struggling and we’re frustrated,” Rogers said. “If golf courses can allow members, why can’t we? If gyms can reopen, why can’t other forms of recreation?”

Since retail stores, restaurants and bars began reopening, the Gallatin City-County Health Department has visited about 140 businesses to educate them on the reopening process. Kelley said they have largely complied with the new safety requirements.

However, a few people have reached out to the county with concerns that businesses aren’t operating safely.

“If places allowed to open already are not following the proper procedures set in place, what makes us think that new places allowed to open will not just do the same and set caution to the wind,” said John Ryder in an email to the health board.

Kelley urged people to “vote with their feet” and stop frequenting businesses that make them feel unsafe.

It is also a misdemeanor for a business owner or employee to violate the county’s rules. If convicted, violators could face a fine.

Even though many businesses are now open, people still may not gather in groups of more than 10, long-term care facilities remain closed, vulnerable residents are asked to stay home and visitors from out of state must self-quarantine for two weeks after entering Montana.

The county and the state have yet to announce when people can gather in larger groups and when additional businesses, such as concert venues and trampoline parks, will be able to open.

“This is all imperfect because we’ve never done this before,” Kelley said. “There is not a lot of science on how to do it.”

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