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Jim McNeely

Blackfeet Tribe Public Information Officer

The Blackfeet Incident Command extended the restrictions addressed under COVID-19 Ordinance 121 until May 29. The ordinance addresses wearing of face masks and gloves in public places, prohibits vacation rentals and continues the closure of non-essential businesses and those that cannot meet social distancing guidelines, among other restrictions.

“There are no new COVID-19 cases in Browning,” Public Information Officer James McNeely said. “There was a passing of a Tribal member, and our thoughts and prayers are with the individual and his family.”

Stating the Incident Command is in “full force,” McNeely said with the Blackfeet Primary approaching, the Election Board is working on how to safely allow the membership to vote.

Additionally, he said some postings saying people leaving the Reservation will be required to isolate for 14 days before returning, even if the trip is only to Cut Bank, are false.

“It’s a total rumor,” he said. “We don’t know where it came from. Groceries and meds are considered essential travel, but if you do travel, please follow the protocols.”

Responding to a request from local law enforcement, the Blackfeet Tribe further restricted alcohol sales. The sale of alcoholic beverages will be allowed from noon to 8 p.m., Monday though Wednesday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Sales are prohibited from Thursday evening through Monday morning.

“In our daily reports in the Incident Command meetings, law enforcement has informed us the crime rate has gradually gone up,” McNeely said, “most of it alcohol related. Also, juvenile parties are becoming a huge problem. This decision by the Council wasn’t done lightly. They looked at both sides and weighed it out.”

The biggest issues, McNeely said, were welfare checks, public intoxications, traffic stops, curfew and domestic disturbances.

McNeely also addressed concerns over funeral costs when the Tribal offices are closed. “Our offices are working with a limited staff, and we are helping with funerals on a case-by-case basis.”

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