Home covid Dane County extends mask mandate to Oct. 8, exempts some musicians and...

Dane County extends mask mandate to Oct. 8, exempts some musicians and performers


Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) on Thursday issued a new public health order requiring masks indoors until at least October 8.

The Order is nearly identical to the current face covering order, issued in mid-August, 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 includes an exemption for actively playing a wind instrument that has a fabric bell cover or similar cover. People can also go unmasked while presenting or performing a religious, political, media, educational, artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical presentation as long as other spacing and vaccination requirements are met — meaning everyone in the audience must be fully vaccinated and performers must maintain six feet of distance.

“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,” PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich said in a statement. “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.”

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 had increased by 382% to 91.6, according to a PHMDC press release.

“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,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in a statement. “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. 84% of people of our currently eligible population, 12 years old and older, have 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,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement. “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.”

“We anticipate seeing more outbreaks and disease transmission as the weather gets colder and schools and universities return to in-person learning,” Board of Health Chair Dr. Jerry Halverson said in a statement. “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.”

The order will be in effect until October 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. View Face Covering Emergency Order #2 for additional information.