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New Dane County health order goes into effect Wednesday

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Coronavirus COVID19

MADISON (WKOW) -- Public Health Madison and Dane County issued a new health order Monday that further loosened restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

Under the order, indoor gatherings will be permitted to allow up to 50 people while outdoor congregations can include as many as 150. This doubles the limits set by the previous order.

"This order loosens restrictions on important parts of daily life, and I am hopeful that we are able to continue on this path as we move into spring," said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison and Dane County. "As we cautiously adjust our orders in recognition of improving conditions, and as we vaccinate more people, we will continue to monitor where we stand."

Emergency Order #13 takes effect Wednesday.

The order also allows for all forms of games and sports so long as the participants practice social distancing.

When Order #12 was issued on January 11, the seven-day case average was 213, and 71 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. Today, the seven-day case average is 107 and there are 63 people hospitalized with the disease, according to a press release from public health.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi gives the community credit for helping get to where we are now, approaching the home stretch to end the threat of the pandemic.

"Because of your hard work and our community coming together and doing the right thing, we have one of the lowest rates of infection and one of the lowest mortality rates to the entire state, despite the size of our community," he said at a news conference Monday.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said as we reflect on the past year, we now can focus on the future.

"I feel very hopeful. And I'm really glad that we've collectively worked together and collaborated enough to get ourselves to this point," she said.

Still, officials are asking people to be careful, wear masks and keep a distance, because the pandemic isn't over yet.

Dane County released a summary of the new rules:


  • Gathering limits indoors and outdoors increased.
  • A Gathering inside where food or drink is offered or provided is limited to 25 individuals. A Gathering inside where food or drink is not offered or provided is limited to 50 individuals.  Individuals must maintain six feet of physical distancing and face coverings are required.
  • A Gathering outside where food or drink is offered or provided is limited to 100 individuals. A Gathering outside where food or drink is not offered or provided is limited to 150 individuals. Individuals must maintain six feet of physical distancing.  Face coverings required at gatherings of more than 50 individuals.


  • Updated the types of face coverings that are allowed, and added additional face-covering requirements for outdoor locations.
  • Outdoors while participating in a sporting event, including drills, practices, scrimmages, games or competitions, unless the sport is played individually, or played with physical distancing at all times.
  • Outdoors while attending a gathering of more than fifty (50) individuals.

Sports and games

  • Games and competitions are allowed for all sports. In most situations, individuals must wear face coverings.
  • Six feet physical distancing is required except when an individual is actively participating in the sport. 
  • Sports that cannot maintain physical distancing at all times are limited to 25 individuals indoors, and 100 individuals outdoors, not including employees.
  • All sports must have a hygiene policy, cleaning policy, and protective measure policy.


  • Removal of provision to limit regulated childcare and 4-year-old kindergarten groups to 15. Indoor youth settings must follow gathering limits.

Retail stores

  • Temporary retail stores are able to operate under the same requirements as permanent retail stores.