Face masks will be required indoors except at home in Dane County starting Monday, July 13, officials announced on Tuesday.
Public Health Madison & Dane County has issued Emergency Order #8, which requires that everyone age 5 and older wear a face covering or mask when in any enclosed building where other people – except for members of the person’s own household or living unit – could be present. People must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when in public, which includes in businesses, health care settings, waiting in line, and on public transportation.
“Public health research now shows that face coverings are critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Given the current number of COVID-19 infections in our county, we need to all be wearing face coverings every time we leave the house,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County, in a statement.
“However, we do not take these orders lightly. We are facing two public health pandemics— COVID-19 and racism,” she added. “People of color in our county have already experienced racism and discrimination when wearing masks in public, which is unacceptable. It is on every person in our county to do better. People should assume that everyone wearing a mask is doing it to protect you and themselves. If someone is not wearing a mask, assume they are genuinely not able to do so.”
The order, which applies to all of Dane County, also requires individuals to wear face coverings when in someone else’s home, PHMDC said, and exceptions are made for certain activities such as eating at a restaurant, but during those activities, 6 feet distancing of individuals not from the same household or living unit is required at all times. Some people are also exempted if they have a physical, mental, or developmental condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.
“Masks and distance are really the two most effective means of slowing the spread of COVID-19,” County Executive Joe Parisi said in a statement. “Given the recent rapid increases in cases in our county—that happened even before school and university classes resume this fall—it’s imperative we take this step now to try and slow the march of COVID through our community. Nothing that’s happening right now is easy, or normal, but it’s what we must do – come together as a community and put everything we have into keeping one another safe.”
Public Health of Madison and Dane County, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and Madison365, are coordinating six pop-up testing sites around the Madison area starting Tuesday, July 7th. You can read more about dates, times and the specific sites in our previous story.