Local businesses are able to kick-start operations on Tuesday as Dane County officially moves into the first phase of its reopening plan.
The move would allow restaurants, gyms, retail stores and others to operate at 25% capacity with certain physical distancing measures in place, while salons, tattoo parlors and spas are able to see patrons by appointment only.
The announcement Friday gives businesses the weekend to take reservations, notify staff and put other precautionary measures in place before entering a new phase of the local "Forward Dane" plan that officials released this week.
The plan, put in place after the Wisconsin Supreme Court knocked down the statewide safer-at-home order, consists of four phases as well as the "prepare for safe reopen" time period that the county has been under since Monday. Madison and Dane County are able to move between the phases by hitting certain public health benchmarks.
Public Health Madison & Dane County Director Janel Heinrich said the decision to proceed to Phase 1 comes after officials have received and analyzed community testing data from the Alliant Energy Center site.
"We feel confident that our county can take the next step in the reopening process at this time,” she said in a release.
Some businesses have have been running with limited operations for weeks. Small retail establishments that meet certain requirements, for example, were allowed to have up to five customers in-store, while a variety of restaurants have been open for carryout or curbside delivery.
The new order would also allow indoor and outdoor gatherings. For commercial facilities, up to 50 people would be able to gather indoors with physical distancing, while at private residences, a maximum of 10 individuals could gather with physical distancing. Outdoor gatherings would be capped at 50, also with physical distancing implemented. Public courts and fields are also allowed to open under the order.
The transition still leaves some closed, including public and private K-12 schools, and public outdoor playgrounds and public splash pads.
Business owners now face a decision about how to operate with varied expectations from customers and staff.
"We want to stress that if a business doesn’t feel ready for an open date of May 26, they should wait until they are comfortable and have all their systems in place to open," Heinrich said.
The order goes into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Madison and Dane County will be subject to the order for at least two weeks, or one incubation period of COVID-19, before further restrictions could be relaxed based on how well the area is meeting certain benchmarks.
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