Dane Co. restaurants, gyms, some retail shops will be allowed to reopen Tuesday

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Restaurants, gyms, and most other retail establishments in Dane Co. received some good news as they head into Memorial Day weekend. On Friday, health officials announced that once the three-day holiday ends, they will be allowed to open their doors again.

According to Public Health Madison & Dane Co., its criteria for entering Phase 1 of the Forward Dane plan have been met and the county will take its first step toward reopening, starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. The agency explained that the move will allow for:

  • Reopening all businesses—such as restaurants, gyms, salons, and retail establishments—to 25% capacity with certain public health requirements and physical distancing.
  • Indoor gatherings at commercial facilities of 50 people or fewer are allowed, with physical distancing
  • Indoor gatherings at private residence of 10 people or fewer are allowed, with physical distancing.
  • Outdoor gatherings of 50 or fewer are allowed, with physical distancing.
  • Select businesses and activities with high risk for disease transmission are still closed.
  • Park courts and fields are open, individuals must maintain physical distancing

While many owners can’t wait to reopen, PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich acknowledged some may not comfortable opening Tuesday and urges them to wait until they are ready and they know their precautions are in place.

To enter this first phase, the county had to meet or be closing in on all nine metrics it is tracking. Phase two cannot begin for at least 14 days, the amount of time it takes COVID-19 to incubate.

“It’s important to note that there is no end date for Phase 1 as of right now,” said Heinrich. “We’re looking at an absolute minimum of 14 days in that Phase, but the reality is that we could be in it for longer. Our data and metrics will inform the end date to Phase 1,” continued Heinrich.

To move into the second phase, which would let stores operate at half-capacity among other changes, at least half the goals established will need to be met in Dane County and across southern Wisconsin. According to its metrics, Dane Co. has six of nine criteria covered, however it has not yet released any measures for the rest of the region.

“We have worked hard to listen to our business owners and support their reopening in a way that also supports the public’s health. I’m confident that Dane County’s data-driven response to this pandemic is the right approach for us to take,” Dane Co. Executive Joe Parisi said.

County officials also issued a reminder that the changes do not mean the virus is any weaker or less contagious. They pointed out that anywhere someone goes they are potentially exposing themselves to coronavirus and reiterated a few common safety tips:

  • Remember to physically distance from people you don’t live with by staying 6 feet away.
  • Wear a cloth face cover if you go out in public.
  • Continue to follow everyday prevention measures:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home as much as possible, especially if you are a person at higher risk for severe illness.