Public Health Madison and Dane County issued an emergency order easing restrictions surrounding gatherings and activities Monday.
Under Emergency Order #13, indoor gatherings where food and drink are not served will allow up to 50 people, while 150 people are permitted for outdoor gatherings. Events with food and drink allow up to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, according to the statement released by Public Health Madison and Dane County.
The previous order allowed gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, regardless of the presence of food and drink.
The new order became effective Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., according to a statement by the City of Madison. The order serves to replace Emergency Order #12 and will remain in effect for 28 days.
"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," Janel Henrich, Director of PHMDC, said in the City of Madison statement. "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. As we saw in the fall, things can change quickly and we all need to do our part to prevent disease spread.”
The order also reduces restrictions surrounding sports games and competitions, according to the statement.
Sports games and competitions are allowed under the order; however, physical distancing of six feet or more is required at all times except during active participation in the sport. Additionally, face coverings must be worn during sports when physical distancing is not possible.
Sports which cannot uphold physical distancing at all times are limited to 25 people indoors at a time and 100 individuals outdoors, not including employees. All sports must also have a cleaning, hygiene and protective measure policy established.
The new additionally adjusts rules regarding the types of face coverings allowed, with additional restrictions on masks for outdoor locations.
The new order mandates the use of face coverings with two or more layers and does not permit certain face coverings, such as ski masks, single-layer neck gaiters or bandanas. Face coverings are also required upon attending an outdoor gathering of more than 50 individuals.
Mandates regarding schools, higher education institutions, restaurants, personal services (i.e. salons and tattoo shops), religious entities/groups, gyms and retail stores remain unchanged, according to a statement issued by PHMDC.
The decision to shift restrictions comes after more than 11 percent of the population of Dane County has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The statement also notes that when Order #12 was released in January, the seven-day case average was 213, and 71 residents were hospitalized with the virus. At present, the seven-day case average is 107 and 63 people are hospitalized.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway expressed her optimism when looking toward the future amidst the state of the pandemic.
"I feel very hopeful,” Rhodes-Conway told WKOW. “And I'm really glad that we've collectively worked together and collaborated enough to get ourselves to this point.”