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Dane Co. mask mandate is extended, but there’s a caveat for the fully vaccinated

The exception could shake up the business community.
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 9:42 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2021 at 10:29 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Public health officials in Dane Co. have, once again, extended a mask mandate until Jan. 3. But this time, there is an exception.

Masks can come off in an enclosed space when everyone is fully vaccinated, starting Saturday, Nov. 27, when Face Covering Emergency Order #5 takes effect.

Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane Co., cited several reasons for the extension, including holiday travel and recent disease transmission. In the last three weeks, she said the COVID-19 rate has almost doubled community-wide, and among children, the rate is at an “all-time high.”

Heinrich said, “This gives some more time to get some more of our youngest folks vaccinated. We’re seeing right now, unfortunately, higher rates of illness, probably the highest rates in our children that we’ve seen in the entire pandemic.”

Earlier this month, county officials said they were not planning on extending a mask mandate beyond this Saturday.

Heinrich told NBC15 Tuesday, “We really, really hoped that we would not have to be issuing another order, and as we’ve learned in this pandemic... expect the unexpected.”

But with an exception this time for the fully vaccinated, she said, “We are wanting to see this as a pathway to ‘How do we balance understanding that COVID is not going away for a while?’ It may never. It may ebb and flow, and we’re trying to figure out how to get there.”

The caveat could shake up the scene for the business community.

The co-owners of Pegasus Games in Madison said they are now reconsidering vaccine requirements for a portion of their store called the game room. “The question is about feasibility, partially,” Denis Zdanovsky said. Patrick Shultz added, “We also don’t want to discriminate against anybody.”

Some of the gamers and customers said they did not mind the mask order, which had continuously been in place since mid-August.

“I’m perfectly fine,” Isiah Silva said. “I think wearing a mask is a safe and reasonable option. I’m all for it.”

Zach Lambe said, “It’s good for the community. No downside here. Its not like it’s a new thing.”

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