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The Gallatin City-County Board of Health today unanimously passed an emergency rule to extend the closure of public dining spaces until April 3 and expand the restrictions to some other businesses.

The emergency rule will extend the closures and restrictions and add gyms and fitness facilities, indoor sporting arenas and theaters to the list, according to a news release from the health department. The original end date to the restrictions was to be March 24.

Restaurants and other businesses are still able to offer takeout, curbside service and delivery service as a way to keep the doors open.

The board held an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to extend the closure order. The restrictions and closures are an attempt to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We have one hospital in our community, and we need to protect its capacity for as long as we can,” said county health officer Matt Kelley, who called into the meeting from home because he wasn’t feeling well and said he wanted to practice what he preached. “Now is the time to take action to limit the spread.”

Several business owners at the meeting offered public comment on the rule prior to the vote. Most said they understood why the decision was being made, but that their businesses would need help getting through the now two-week period of restricted service.

“Today, we did $229 of business,” said Kevin Caracciolo, owner of the Cateye Cafe, which is doing takeout orders. “Who am I going to pay?”

Board of Health chair Becky Franks said that the decision was not one she or the board were taking lightly.

“None of this is easy … this is a pandemic that none of us have seen before in our lives,” Franks said prior to the vote. “We need to be able to manage and try to maintain the health and safety of our public, and I know that includes economic matters as well.”

An exclusion from the emergency rule are churches and other places of worship. Churches have been the source of outbreaks in other parts of the country and the world, including in South Korea, where dozens of people became infected after attending a worship service with someone who had contracted the virus.

The institutions were left off of the ruling because, unlike restaurants and retail businesses, churches generally have a more strict schedule of when people are using the facility. However, some Bozeman churches have already voluntarily moved to remote services.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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