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Newly Elected Montana Governor Greg Gianforte Ends State Mask Mandate

Montana’s Republican Governor, Greg Gianforte, revoked the statewide mask mandate instituted by his Democrat predecessor, fulfilling a campaign promise.

Governor Gianforte made the announcement on Friday, saying the state of Montana had made “significant progress” in vaccinating elderly and vulnerable parts of the population, meaning that the mask mandate was no longer needed on a state level. Gianforte had made the removal of the mandate a campaign promise in November, with his defeated Democrat predecessor having signed it into law in July.

The Governor made the announcement during a signing ceremony that would protect businesses, healthcare providers, places of worship and nonprofits from lawsuits related to the coronavirus outbreak, with Gianforte having noted that the legislation was priority for his administration.

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“We will continue to provide incentives to protect the health and safety and we will emphasize personal responsibility over mandates,” Gianforte said on Wednesday. “When it comes down to it, I trust Montanans, and together we can combat this public health and economic pandemic with personal responsibility and by looking out for one another.”

This week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced they had updated their recommendations for people to wear two masks instead of one. As National File reported:

With these “well-fitting masks,” Walensky claimed that they reduced exposure levels of receiver by 95% compared to no mask at all. The CDC Director notably did not discuss the percentage difference between wearing two masks and wearing one mask, and the difference in effectiveness between wearing two masks and the earloop tuck method.

“The science is clear,” Walensky said. “Everyone needs to be wearing a mask when they are in public, or when they are in their own home but with people who do not live in their household… Now is not the time to roll back mask requirements.”

Gianforte added that since the state is “not out of the woods yet,” he will continue wearing a mask himself, and encourages “all Montanans to do the same to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors.” However, the government and police will no longer require citizens to wear masks using the threat of force.

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Gianforte faced controversy when running for Montana’s at large Congressional district in 2017, when he “bodyslammed” a reporter for the Guardian, telling him to “get the hell out of here” on the eve of the special election.