Madison and Dane Co. to require masks indoors starting next week

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 12:02 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Health officials will soon start requiring masks for nearly everyone in Madison and Dane County when they are indoors with other people who are not members of their immediate households.

On Tuesday, Public Health Madison and Dane County announced the new emergency order, which applies to everyone over the age of five. It is set to go into effect on Monday, July 13, and will apply to the entire county.

“Public health research now shows that face coverings are critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19,” PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich said. “Given the current number of COVID-19 infections in our county, we need to all be wearing face coverings every time we leave the house.”

The order mandates people wear a face covering that covers both their nose and mouth when they are in public, pointing out that those instances include business and health care settings, while waiting in line, and on public transportation.

It even applies to when someone is visiting another individual’s home, the agency noted.

“The recent spike in cases showed that asymptomatic cases were on the rise in Dane County and so was community spread with no known source of infection. If people are sick and don’t know it, mandatory masking protects all of us,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said.

The order does make exceptions for activities like eating at restaurants, however, a statement from PHMDC points out that in instances like those people are already required to socially distance.

“First of all I think it’s a fantastic step. We need to protect our loved ones, our neighbors, people when we go to the grocery store, etc.,” says Alder Sheri Carter, District 14.

There are also carve outs for people who have a physical, mental, or developmental condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. Seemingly referencing some of the controversy over the wearing of masks nationwide, Heinrich urged people to assume both that people are wearing masks to protect themselves and those around them and people who aren’t have a genuine reason why they can’t.

While masks will certainly the most common, the order does allow for other ways to stay in compliance without one, such as by using a bandana or a scarf.

No potential end date for the order, which also re-asserts previous restrictions on businesses and mass gatherings, was listed.

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