The Gallatin County City-County Health Department has won their suit against the Rocking R Bar in downtown Bozeman. After two days of testimony, Gallatin County District Judge Rienne McElyea ruled in favor of the health department, forcing the R Bar to close at 10 p.m.

The owner of the R Bar, Mike Hope, argued that by closing at 10 p.m., it was sending most of his patrons to private house parties, where they are not as regulated and less likely to follow the health department's COVID-19 guidelines. The health department argued that a 10 p.m. closing time for bars and restaurants is vital to slowing the spread of the coronavirus in the community.

The Gallatin County Health Department filed a lawsuit against the R Bar on November 25th for violating the 10 p.m. closing time ordered by the health department for all restaurants and bars. The earlier closing time was instituted on November 9th on top of restrictions that were already in place because of what the health department termed "rapid, widespread, and sustained increases in new cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, and outbreaks in several long-term care facilities for seniors."

Two weeks ago, a judge denied a request from the Gallatin City-County Health Department for a temporary restraining order against the Rocking R Bar, attempting to stop them from staying open past 10 p.m. After denying the health department the restraining order, the judge set a hearing date for December 15th.

According to the latest data provided by the Gallatin City-County Health Department, COVID-19 cases have been on the decline since mid-November. To check the latest COVID-19 statistics for Gallatin County, click here.

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