Here's what's allowed when Madison & Dane Co. enter Phase 1 of reopening plan

Published: May. 25, 2020 at 12:32 PM CDT
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Dane County is taking its first real step towards reopening following weeks of safer-at-home rules implemented first by the state and then at the county level. At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the county will enter the first phase of Public Health Madison & Dane County’s three-part plan to begin allowing businesses to welcome customers again and increasingly large numbers of people to gather.

PHMDC had announced Friday that Dane County had met sufficient criteria for entering Phase 1, based on the metrics it is using to track the local spread of coronavirus. The county will remain in this first phase for at least two weeks as health officials determine if enough criteria have been met to lift the restrictions further. According to the plan, though, all restrictions will not be lifted until after a vaccine or another way to pro-actively protect the community is developed.

Here is a brief summary of some of the changes that will take effect Tuesday morning. A more comprehensive and detailed list is available at the PHMDC website.

  • MASS GATHERINGS: Under the new order up to 50 people will be allowed at mass gatherings, such as religious services, meetings and conferences, concerts, or sporting events, held either at a commercial facility or outdoors. Social distancing is still required. Up to ten people can gather at private homes and will need to maintain physical distancing.

  • BUSINESS OPENINGS: Most Dane County businesses will be allowed to open for the first time in weeks, however they will face strict restrictions on their operations and how many customers they can serve at any given time. A full breakdown of all the rules is available HERE. Some of the major points are detailed below:

    • THE GENERAL RULES: With Phase 1 in effect, many businesses will be allowed to reopen, although at a limited capacity. They will be required to create written safety and hygiene plans designed to keep employees and customers safe.

      Offices are urged to offer online or virtual services and hold meetings and collaborate online. Retails businesses should still offer curbside pick-up and drop-off, allow online or phone payments whenever possible. They are also barred from door-to-door solicitations.

    • RESTAURANTS & BARS: Restaurants and bars will again be allowed to open their doors to dine-in customers. They must limit the number of customers at any given time to 25 percent. Tables must be six feet apart and no more than six people from the same living unit are allowed at the same table.

      Self-serve stations, such as buffets, salad bars, and beverage stations, are prohibited. Customers may not dispense their own condiments either.

      Outdoor seating is allowed, but play areas and lounges are not.

    • RETAIL STORES: Retail establishments are also limited to 25 percent capacity. They will need to regulate entry into the stores, keeping waiting customers six feet apart as they go in. The plan suggests alternate ways of letting people know they can enter, such as text messages or phone calls, so they can wait in their vehicles.

      All retails establishments over 50,000 square feet are required to offer at least two hours of dedicated shopping time to their vulnerable customers.

    • SALON AND SPAS: Hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, day spas, electrolysis providers, waxing salons, eyebrow-care establishments, tattoo and piercing parlors, body art establishments, tanning facilities, etc., will be allowed. The stores are capped at 25 percent capacity.

      Services must be by appointment only. Employees must wear masks whenever customers are there and customers will need to wear masks whenever possible.

    • GYM & FITNESS CENTERS: Each facility will be limited to 25 percent capacity and group classes will only be allowed if proper social distancing can be maintained. Activities that don’t lend themselves to proper physical distancing are barred.

      The centers will be required to offer materials at each station for members to disinfect their exercise equipment before and after each use. The facility will need to clean the equipment, the common areas, locker rooms, and restrooms more frequently.

    • AMUSEMENT PLACES: Water parks, swimming pools, aquariums, zoos, museums, bowling alleys, amusement parks, outdoor miniature golf, movie theaters, theaters, concert and music halls, golf courses, etc. will be allowed to open and are restricted to 25 percent of capacity, with a maximum of 50 people at outdoor performances.

      Tee times, performances, and other scheduled events must be spaced to allow for proper social distancing.

      High-touch areas like door handles, rides, railings, touch screens, games, etc. need to be disinfected between each use or will need to remain closed.

  • RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS: Churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and nondenominational ministries may offer services, but are limited to the 25 percent capacity limit set for businesses. They will also need to set cleaning practices to protect its members and provide ways for proper social distancing.

  • LODGING: Hotels, motels, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals must restrict guests from congregating in common areas and keep them properly spaced while in line at the front desk. They will also need to follow cleaning protocols established by PHMDC.

  • DRIVE-IN THEATERS: The theaters may not provide outdoor seating and moviegoers need to remain in their vehicles unless they are going to purchase food or use the restroom.

  • CHILD CARE & EDUCATION: Childcare settings, including camps, certified childcare providers, and youth programs, will need to follow licensing and certification requirements.

    Groups or classrooms are limited to no more than 15 children and there should be no interaction between the groups or classes. The staff should cross over between groups as much as possible as well.


This list is just a summary of the restrictions in place. The order itself provides greater details about the restrictions as well as rules for landlords, healthcare facilities manufacturing and government functions and more. That list can be found