Citing a sustained recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Dane County is further restricting bars, restaurants and gatherings.

A new public health order that goes into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday July 2 from Public Health Madison & Dane County limits restaurants to indoor service at 25 percent of their building capacity, down from 50 percent. Addtionally, while bars may still offer take-out food they may no longer offer indoor dining. Both bars and restaurants are allowed outdoor, socially-distanced seating. 

“For the past week, Dane County has seen a sustained, high number of cases. After consultation with our contact tracing team, gatherings and visits to bars and restaurants continue to be implicated in interviews with cases,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “We are acting now to immediately curb this increase in cases and protect the health and safety of our community.”

The release also said that Dane County "will not be moving forward with looser orders for at least a month."

Specifics of the new order: 

  • All indoor gatherings are permitted with 10 individuals or fewer not including employees. Individuals must maintain physical distancing. 
  • All outdoor gatherings are permitted with 25 individuals or fewer not including employees. Individuals must maintain physical distancing. 
  • At restaurants (defined in order), indoor dining capacity reduced to 25% of approved seating capacity levels. 
  • Bars (defined in order) may provide takeout (no indoor dining). 
  • Bars and restaurants are permitted to provide outdoor seating, with physical distancing. 

In its release today, Public Health Madison & Dane County said that "gathering in bars in particular is a concern because groups of people mix, bars are often loud spaces that require loud talking to communicate (which can spread infectious droplets farther), alcohol impairs the judgment of patrons, and people often are not able to identify or provide contact information for the people they were in close contact with."

The order also clarifies rules on group fitness class sizes and includes updated requirements for summer school classroom sizes.

“Our community is at a critical juncture in our fight against COVID-19. Too many people have ignored public health guidelines regarding social distancing. This, in turn, has resulted in the rapid spread of the virus throughout the county. We need everyone to take this seriously and adhere to the guidelines and recommendations that are proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19 or we will face the very real possibility of having to resort to even stricter guidelines,” said Dane County Executive Parisi in the release.

From June 13 through June 26, 614 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Dane County. Of those:

  • 49% of cases were between the ages of 18 and 25.
  • 54% of cases were tested at the community test site at Alliant Energy Center.
  • 45% of cases interviewed reported attending a gathering or party with people outside of their household.
  • 28% of cases (a total of 172) were associated with a cluster: 132 from bars, 14 from workplaces, 11 from congregate facilities, 3 from daycares/preschools, and 12 from other clusters.
  • 13% of cases were asymptomatic at the time of the interview.

“We need individuals and businesses alike to take this public health threat seriously and know we are enforcing these rules. Responsible businesses should double down on efforts to protect patrons and workers, including not only providing face coverings for workers as required, but also by encouraging patrons to use face coverings as well,” said City of Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “To our younger population, I want to remind you that free testing is available at Alliant Energy Center. Make a plan and go get tested if you may have been exposed.”

The order also requires all workplaces to post a Public Health Madison & Dane County workplace requirements fact sheet PDF in a space easily accessible to employees describing the requirements of both the employers and employees to reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace.

Forward Dane metrics were updated on Monday and two criteria are now red:

  • Cases per day: Cases per day ranged from 13 to 115, with an average of 44 cases per day.
  • Community spread: Currently, 37% of cases who tested positive didn’t know where they could have gotten COVID-19.
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