Dane Co. ending outdoor mask mandate and capacity limits
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Soon, people in Dane Co. will no longer need to wear masks during outdoor activities nor will there be caps placed on how many people can attend an outdoor gathering – provided everyone stays socially distanced.
On Friday, Public Health Madison & Dane Co. revealed the next public health order, which is set to replace the current one next Wednesday, April 7, highlighting changes that ease restrictions on outdoor events, restaurants, schools, and health clubs.
PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich pointed out that, while the agency was happy to be able to take these latest steps, “we cannot let our guard down yet.”
“Please continue to follow the precautions that have gotten us to this moment so we don’t have to go backwards,” she urged. “Everyone should continue to mask up indoors when with people who are not vaccinated and limit close contact with others.”
While masks will no longer be required at outdoor events and they will not be placed on any limits based upon capacity, the requirement that people in attendance remain at least six feet apart at all times will remain in effect will likely still impose constraints on some locations.
While big changes are coming outdoors, nothing will change for indoor gatherings.
Indoor gatherings where food or drink is served is still limited at 150 people, while events where food or drinks aren’t served can have no more than 350 people Businesses are limited to 50 percent capacity and taverns capped at 25 percent.
Other changes coming with this latest health order include:
- Changes to cleaning and distancing requirements at schools and childcare facilities;
- Self-service food stations, e.g. salad bars, buffets, and sampling, may resume;
- Saunas and steam rooms can reopen, but will have some restrictions.
“We are all excited to get back to doing activities we love and have missed over the past year,” Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “As restrictions continue to be loosened and you consider which activities you want to pick up again, keep in mind all activities contain some risk.”
Stable cases; increasing vaccinations
In its latest blog post Thursday night, PHMDC noted that the 14-day average number of new cases remained stable since last week, ticking down one to 47 cases per day over the past two weeks. It noted that 12% of cases in the county were among University of Wisconsin-Madison students and staff, while UW’s health system conducted four out of every five tests performed in Dane Co.
Even when excluding the UW cases and tests, the county health agency points out the percent of tests coming back positive remain low at 2.9 percent.
The post also noted the relatively high number of vaccinations in the county, relative to the rest of the state. Nearly nine in ten residents age 65 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is the second highest percentage in the state.
Nearly half of all residents 16 or older (48%) have received their first shot as well, according to PHMDC’s blog post. The latest Dept. of Health Services statistics show that among all residents, including those for whom the vaccine hasn’t been approved, over 39% have received their first dose and nearly 23 percent have completed their vaccine series.
On average, over 4,200 people in Dane Co. are getting their first dose of one of the vaccines every day, whether it’s the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna versions or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson.
The Previous Order
The previous order, issued at this time last month, increased the gathering limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings. Under the March order, gatherings with food or drinks were limited to 150 people, while a gathering without food or drinks is limited to 350 people. An outdoor gathering was capped at 500 people, regardless of a food or drink option.
Restaurant capacity was increased to 50%, while taverns must limit indoor dine-in capacity to 25% of approved seating capacity.
A mid-month amendment to the order eased mask and distancing restrictions for vaccinated people.
Under the guidance, vaccinated individuals would no longer need to wear a mask when they are in an enclosed space where all individuals in the enclosed space are fully vaccinated and when they are in an enclosed space with individuals from a single household who are not fully vaccinated and are not at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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