Bars in Montana are still required to close at 12:30 am, per Governor Bullocks Phase Two Reopening the Big Sky plan, which began on June 1, 2020. Many bar owners have expressed doubt and frustration that the coronavirus somehow becomes more dangerous or spreads easier after midnight. I've heard stories of bar owners in Billings who have flaunted the guidelines and instead of closing at the required time, or following the 75% capacity limits, they just pay the fines.

A bar owner in Butte, Ted Deshner, has now been arrested twice for failing to follow the rules issued by health officials. He was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and misdemeanor obstructing a police officer, according to a story in the Lincoln Journal Star. Apparently, not only did Deshner refuse to close his bar at 12:30 a.m., but he jumped on the DJ microphone and encouraged patrons at the Butte Party Palace Bar to "riot" and ignore orders from police to disburse.

I've seen this line of reasoning fairly frequently on social media lately, usually in connection to any type of large gatherings, with advocates saying, "just call it a riot/protest and you can do whatever you want," a reference to the protests that have taken place nationwide after the death of George Floyd. Clearly, you can't just call any gathering a protest, like it or not. At least not in Butte, America as Mr. Deshner found out.

A 2009 article in the Montana Standard noted that Butte has four times the state's recommended number of bars, per population. The 2000 census data showed that Butte-Silver Bow County should have 24 all-beverage licenses. At the time, they had 85. That's because a number of those licenses were grandfathered in before the state set limits per-population in 1947.

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