(The Center Square) – Public health managers in Dane County are getting tougher on bars, restaurants and private parties after an increase in coronavirus cases this week. 

But the protests that have put thousands of people in the streets of Madison will continue. 

Public Health Madison and Dane County on Thursday issued a new order that “clarifies” the language of the county’s reopening plan. 

“This new order has changes that target the issues we are hearing about in contact tracing interviews,” PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich said. 

Dane County has seen an uptick in the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus in the past week or so. 

Heinrich says half of the county’s 279 new cases are people under the age of 30. That aligns with what public health managers across Wisconsin and across the country are seeing. 

To combat the trend, Heinrich is targeting bars, restaurants and get-togethers popular among young people in Madison. 

“In contact tracing interviews, gatherings among family and friends and socializing at bars have been identified often. We know they are a major driver of this surge in cases, and this is why we are taking this targeted approach and not moving entirely to a previous phase,” Heinrich said. 

Under the new order: 

  • Private gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer people.
  • Bars and restaurants stay at 50 percent capacity but customers are required to use seating at all times. Seating must be physically distanced (6 feet) from other parties. Parties can only be seated with members of their own household. 
  • No standing service (i.e. moving to the restroom is fine but patrons must be seated during their visit).

“There are a small number of businesses that are ignoring public health orders, and by doing so they continue to put their workers, customers, and the community at risk. This has got to stop,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement. 

Dane County’s new order does not mention the thousands of protesters who’ve been in the streets of Madison for nearly a month. 

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.

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