MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Effective Monday, July 13, anyone living in Dane County over the age of 5-years-old and older will be required to wear a face-covering or mask when in an enclosed building with other people, with the except of the person’s own household or living unit. New orders requiring face coverings were announced Tuesday.

“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.

“However, we do not take these orders lightly. We are facing two public health pandemics—COVID-19 and racism. 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,” continued Heinrich.

The order, according to Public Health Madison and Dane County, requires that people must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when in public – that includes businesses, health care settings, waiting in line, on public transportation, and in someone else’s home.

Exceptions are made for those eating at a restaruant and other specific activities. When masks are not being used, 6 feet distancing of those not from the same household or living unit is required at all times.

Some people are exempt all together 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. “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,” Parisi added.

Public health officials say that if someone cannot wear a mask in a business, they should ask that business for reasonable accommodation, like curbside pickup or delivery option.

Children ages 2-4 are encouraged to wear masks while children 5 and older are required to wear masks. If a child is unable to wear a mask, public health officials ask that only brought places when it is necessary.

“Science keeps informing our response to this virus. The recent spike in cases showed that asymptomatic cases were on the rise in Dane County and so was community spread with no known source of infection. If people are sick and don’t know it, mandatory masking protects all of us,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.

No Northeast Wisconsin communities have orders requiring face coverings, but a Green Bay alderman hopes to propose a mandate next week.

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