Dane Co. imposes new restrictions on bars and restaurants; public gatherings

The changes roll back some of the changes enacted by the switch to Phase 2.
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 8:53 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In the face of triple-digit growth in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Dane County each day, county leaders and health officials are returning to greater restrictions on restaurants and bars as well as public gatherings.

On Wednesday, Public Health Madison & Dane County issued a new order designed to slow the spread of coronavirus in the county, the City of Madison announced. The new order rolls back some of the changes made when its Forward Dane plan moved to Phase 2.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway warned residents that city officials intend to enforce the new restrictions and asked businesses to double down on their protections for customers and employees by providing masks to people and encouraging their use. The City also provided a list of the guidelines offered to workplaces.

The agency’s director Janel Heinrich explained that Dane Co. has experienced a high number of cases recently and that increase has been sustained. She also noted that, through contact tracing, they have found much of the spread has come from public gatherings and restaurants and bars.

“We are acting now to immediately curb this increase in cases and protect the health and safety of our community,” she said.

According to the City’s statement on the increased restrictions, some of the most important changes include:

  • All indoor gatherings are permitted with 10 individuals or fewer not including employees. Individuals must maintain physical distancing. (Section 2.a.)
  • All outdoor gatherings are permitted with 25 individuals or fewer not including employees. Individuals must maintain physical distancing. (Section 2.b.)
  • At restaurants (defined in order), indoor dining capacity reduced to 25% of approved seating capacity levels. (Section 5.b)
  • Bars (defined in order) may provide takeout (no indoor dining). (Section 5.b)
  • Bars and restaurants are permitted to provide outdoor seating, with physical distancing. (Section 5.b)

The order goes into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday, July 2, according to the city.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi called the current situation a “a critical juncture” in the county’s fight against coronavirus and accused “too many people” of ignoring public guidelines for social distancing, saying it led to the increased spread.

“We need everyone to take this seriously and adhere to the guidelines and recommendations that are proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19 or we will face the very real possibility of having to resort to even stricter guidelines,” Parisi said.

According to PHMDC, the daily average increase in newmore than 600 people have tested positive in the county between June 13 and June 26, nearly half of whom were between the ages of 18 and 25. Fifty-four percent of those new cases were discovered because of testing at the Alliant Energy Center.

Rhodes-Conway pointed to the Alliant Center testing and urged younger Dane County residents to get tested and have a plan ready in case they are exposed.

The agency’s numbers show of 28 percent of the cases have been traced to a cluster. Of those 172 cases, 132 of them occurred in a bar, 14 happened in the individual’s workplace, 11 were at congregate facilities, three at day cares, and the remaining 12 happened at other clusters. Thirty-seven percent did not know how they could have got it.

In all, 1,876 have tested positive for the virus out of the 77,278 total tests performed, the agency’s COVID-19 tracker shows. It indicates an increasing rate of new coronavirus cases over the past two weeks unlike any growth the county had yet seen. In the past week alone, Dane Co. has seen jumps of:

DayNew Cases
Tuesday, June 2372
Wednesday, June 24115
Thursday, June 25103
Friday, June 2680
Saturday, June 27112
Sunday, June 28133
Monday, June 2977
The Dane County COVID-19 Dashboard shows increasing growth of new coronavrus cases in recent...
The Dane County COVID-19 Dashboard shows increasing growth of new coronavrus cases in recent days.((Source: Public Health Madison Dane County))

: An earlier version of this story indicated the change would go into effect on Tuesday, July 2. It should have read Thursday, July 2. The story has been updated to correct the error.

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