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People who had been protesting health rules in front of health officer Matt Kelley’s house for nearly three weeks dissipated Thursday, the day after a Gallatin County judge ruled that a Bozeman bar must comply with a 10 p.m. closing time meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

John Lamb, a Libertarian from Norris who was leading the protests, told the Chronicle that he didn’t have any intentions of returning to Kelley’s home each day. He said he did leave one car in front of the house with signs and another car at the Law and Justice Center.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Lamb said.

Lamb and Roger Roots, a Libertarian from Livingston, and a few others had been protesting the health rules in front of Kelley’s house for 19 days. They asked that Kelley resign and argued that the mask mandate and restrictions on businesses were unlawful.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, days 20 and 21 of the protest, they moved to the Gallatin County Law and Justice Center, where a judge granted a preliminary injunction against the Rocking R Bar, requiring it to close by 10 p.m.

The bar had been violating the rule since it was implemented in November.

Brian Gallik, attorney for Rocking R Bar, made a point to distance himself from the protesters during one of the hearings.

“We don’t condone anything that’s going on with respect to your home,” Gallik told Kelley.

In Montana, health officials in Pondera and Flathead counties have resigned, citing lack of support and needs for more transparency and additional contact tracers and staff, according to the Associated Press.

The pattern has been seen across the country too. Dozens of health officials have either resigned or been fired over public scrutiny for similar health rules.

The protests outside Kelley’s house started on Thanksgiving. Jim Veltkamp, Bozeman’s interim police chief, said officers monitored the protests in case anyone harassed or verbally abused Kelley and his family. He said police responded to “generally minor” calls over parking and the protesters’ presence.

The protesters claimed that coronavirus-related restrictions are unconstitutional and impede on their rights. Anthony Johnstone, a law professor at the University of Montana, has said he isn’t aware of any health restrictions in Montana that do that.

He said a way that health rules can violate the constitution is if they discriminate against a person or group. Other arguments include that governors or local authorities overstepped their powers with the health orders.

Kelley has also received support from city residents. His neighbors have posted signs in their yards, thanking him for the work he’s doing. Others have lined Bozeman’s Main Street to show support for Kelley and public health workers.

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