Fueled by what local health officials describe as "cautious optimism," Dane County is opening the door to more activities as cases of COVID-19 hold steady and vaccinations rise.
On Thursday, Public Health Madison & Dane County issued a new pandemic health order which continues a mask mandate but allows indoor events, such as weddings, of up to 350 people if food and drink is served, or 500 people without refreshments.
Restaurants and bars can have indoor seating up to 75 percent of capacity under the new restrictions which begin May 5 and go through June 2.
"I’m eager to see the creative ways in which we’ll be able to have particularly outdoor events while still keeping everybody safe," said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway during a press briefing. "Things like the farmer’s market, Ride the Drive. I’m hoping some of the neighborhood festivals that we have in a normal year will start to come back."
Sign up for daily news!
Stay informed with WPR's email newsletter.
Public Health Madison & Dane County director Janel Heinrich said the cases of COVID-19 have plateaued for the longest stretch of time since last spring. Fifty-eight percent of county residents have had at least one COVID-19 shot, giving it one of the best vaccination rates in Wisconsin.
Bayfield and Door County have similarly high rates of COVID-19 vaccination, but the state rate stands at 43 percent partially-vaccinated with some counties far lower. In some western Wisconsin counties, a rise in new cases have prompted health officials to remind people to wear masks, socially distance and get vaccinated.
This week, the Alliant Energy Center in Madison started allowing walk-in vaccinations. The center continues to accept appointments. More information can be found on the city-county health website.