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New Dane County mask order includes exemption for musicians, other performers

The new order includes exemptions for those actively playing a wind instrument that has a fabric bell cover, or similar cover, that acts as a face covering. It also exempts those who are presenting or performing a religious, political, media, educational, artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical presentation as long as other spacing and vaccination requirements are met

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With caveats, performing artists in Dane County will be exempt from a new COVID-19 mask order that goes into effect on Friday.

In a release today, Public Health Madison & Dane County announced it is issuing Face Covering Emergency Order #2, effective Friday, Sept. 10. 

The order is nearly identical to the current face covering order that is set to expire on Sept. 16, which requires that everyone age 2 and older wear a face covering or mask when in in any enclosed building where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, could be present.

The new order will be in effect until October 8.

Performance exemption 

The new order includes exemptions for those actively playing a wind instrument that has a fabric bell cover, or similar cover, that acts as a face covering. It also exempts those who are presenting or performing a religious, political, media, educational, artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical presentation as long as other spacing and vaccination requirements are met.

“In light of the absence of CDC guidance, and taking into consideration guidance from other communities, this latest version of the order includes a narrow exemption for certain performers while performing or practicing,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “We highly encourage all performing arts to consider all the ways in which they can reduce disease transmission, especially as the highly-contagious Delta variant continues to spread in Dane County.”

Rising cases

The rate of cases in Dane County has risen rapidly since the Delta variant became dominant; on July 19, the 7-day average number of cases was 19, and on August 12, the 7-day average increased by 382% to 91.6.

“At this point in the pandemic, we all know how to help stop the spread of illness, by getting vaccinated, wearing masks indoors, going outdoors when you can, and distancing yourself from others,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We ask people and businesses to consider the goal of this order and encourage everyone to follow these common-sense precautions.”

Dane County is among the most vaccinated counties in the country, with 84% of the currently eligible population, 12 years old and older, having  received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. However, there are still roughly 75,000 eligible Dane County residents who are not yet vaccinated.

“It is imperative that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated to protect our county from increased hospitalizations and death,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, “I appreciate the work our arts community has done to make sure that audiences and performers are vaccinated. Together, we can support our economy and culture while protecting public health.”

Right now, Dane County is in high disease transmission, according to the CDC. The number of people hospitalized in Dane County hospitals with COVID is currently about three times higher than the number the county averaged in July.

“We anticipate seeing more outbreaks and disease transmission as the weather gets colder and schools and universities return to in-person learning,” said Jerry Halverson, MD, Chair of the Board of Health. “Our high level of vaccine coverage in combination with the continued face covering order will hopefully continue to mean that cases in Dane County stay below the state average.”

For more information about the COVID-19 in Dane County and the latest public health order, visit publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus. You can also follow @publichealthmdc on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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