Restaurant and bar patrons will have to stay seated at all times as part of an update to Dane County's COVID-19 reopening plan. And, the number of people allowed at indoor private gatherings has been scaled back to 10. 

Public Health Madison & Dane County Director Janel Heinrich said in a release that the change targets “the issues we are hearing about in contact tracing interviews."

“In contact tracing interviews, gatherings among family and friends and socializing at bars have been identified often. We know they are a major driver of this surge in cases, and this is why we are taking this targeted approach and not moving entirely to a previous phase,” Heinrich said.

"We make this change after carefully studying our steep case trajectory and learning more about the circumstances surrounding each case from our contact tracers," Heinrich continued.

The change, effective at 10 p.m. tonight, was issued about 6:30 p.m. by Public Health Madison & Dane County

Tonight's updated order keeps Dane County in Phase 2 of its Forward Dane plan, that is opening the county in phases based on public health data. It will likely remain at Phase 2 for at least another month, county officials said. 

Specifically, the new order: 

  • Limits indoor gatherings on private property or at a private home to 10 or fewer people. Up to 50 people may still gather indoors at a commercial facility. The county's original Phase 2 order, issued June 15, allowed up to 50 people to gather indoors at all sites. Up to 100 people may still gather outdoors under the updated order.
  • Allows bars and restaurants to stay at 50% capacity but customers are required to use seating at all times. Seating must be physically distanced (6 feet) from other parties. Parties can only be seated with members of their own household 
  • No standing service (i.e., moving to the restroom is fine but patrons must be seated during their visit) 

New information released this morning showed that 50% of the 279 new cases seen in Dane County in the past few days are among people 20-29, many of whom live on or near the UW-Madison campus. Similar trends are being seen throughout the county, with 40% of cases from the past few days living outside of Madison.

In addition to this new order, Public Health Madison & Dane County said it will be stepping up enforcement activity. In contact tracing interviews, it is clear some businesses are not following the criteria required in Public Health orders, officials said.

“There are a small number of businesses that are ignoring public health orders, and by doing so they continue to put their workers, customers, and the community at risk. This has got to stop,” said Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “While we are having trouble with a few businesses, I want to acknowledge that we have heard from many businesses that are following the rules and are working closely with Public Health staff to meet the requirements.”​

County officials said Forward Dane metrics will be updated on Monday.

“We’re all tired of dealing with COVID-19 but the fact is it is real, it is still here and it is spreading rapidly throughout our community. Please take this seriously – maintain physical distance and wear a mask. We all need to do our part in order to keep people safe,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

In the past five days, 279 people in Dane County have tested positive for COVID-19, which brings the 7-day case average to 47 cases per day. The 7-day average from mid-June was 17 cases per day. Increased testing does not fully account for this upward trend in cases, officials said. 

To help protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you’re sick or feel off. A number of new cases reported going out while symptomatic.
  • Stay home if you don’t need to go out. Working from home, virtual gatherings, and using curbside or delivery ordering are still the safest and best options to protect yourself and others.
  • Wear a mask if you go out. This is a simple, effective way to help reduce risk for yourself and others.
  • Protect your workers and customers. Follow public health requirements and recommendations.
  • Assume you have come in contact with COVID-19 if you go out. Currently, just over a third of cases didn’t know where they could’ve gotten COVID-19. Watch for symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor to be tested or visit the community test site. If you are a UW–Madison student, you may also contact University Health Services .

For more information on COVID-19 and how to reduce your risk, visit Public Health Madison Dane County's website at

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