Face coverings are required in Dane County under these circumstances:
There are currently two Orders in effect regarding face coverings: one from Governor Tony Evers’ office that is in effect as of August 1, 2020 and covers all of Wisconsin and one from Public Health Madison & Dane County that is in effect as of July 13, 2020. The Governor’s Order sets a minimum bar of what must be followed, but also allows locales to be stricter. Because Public Health Madison & Dane County's Order has some stricter requirements, those requirements must also be followed.
Under the above mentioned Orders, people five years of age and older must wear a face covering:
- Indoors and in any enclosed building where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, could be or are present.
- In line to enter any indoor space.
- Driving or riding on public transportation or in a paratransit vehicle, a taxi, a private car service vehicle, a ride-sharing vehicle, or any other for hire vehicle, or a personal vehicle when individuals are present that are not from the individuals household or living unit.
- In any other confined space open to the public where individuals congregate, including but not limited to outdoor bars, outdoor restaurants, and outdoor park structures.
A face covering is defined as: a piece of cloth or other material that is worn to cover the nose and mouth completely. A face covering includes but is not limited to a bandana, a cloth face mask, a disposable or paper mask, a neck gaiter, or a religious face covering. A face covering does not include face shields, mesh masks, masks with holes or openings, or masks with vents.
There are exceptions for when a face covering can be removed. Exceptions include:
- When actively eating or drinking
- When communicating with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing and communication cannot be achieved through other means
- When obtaining a service that requires the temporary removal of the face covering
- When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity.
- When federal or state law prohibits wearing a face covering.
- When engaging in work where wearing a face covering would create a risk to the individual, as determined by government safety guidelines.
- When sleeping
- When swimming or on duty as a lifeguard.
Some people are also exempted from wearing a face covering. Exemptions include:
- Individuals who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
- Individuals who have a medical, mental, or developmental condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering.
We have established a complaint team that will evaluate the complaints and determine the best way to provide education to individuals and businesses that are noncompliant with the face covering section of the Order. The goal of this team is to ensure that face coverings are worn when required by providing education first before looking towards enforcement. When necessary, enforcement will generally focus on businesses or individuals that despite attempts to educate continue to violate the Order, such as businesses who do not require customers and/or staff to wear face coverings at large indoor events or gatherings. If a citation is issued within the City of Madison the ticket amount would be $376, if it is issued outside of the City under the County ordinance the ticket amount is $263.50.
Your Role as an Individual
You should not ask someone why they aren’t wearing a face covering. It is not your job to intervene if someone isn’t wearing a face covering. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous. Your job is to wear your face covering and stay six feet away from others. See this section for more information.
Why it’s Important to Wear a Face Covering
Face coverings help prevent the spread of the virus.
- Your face covering protects me, and my face covering protects you. Wearing a face covering will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants).
- Face coverings work best when we all wear them. Face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when face coverings are used along with other preventative measures, including physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
Not everyone is required to wear a face covering. Some people with disabilities, physical or mental conditions, and very young people (under 5) are not required to wear face coverings because doing so may cause harm to that person. Federal law requires businesses provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. This may mean providing an alternate form of service (e.g., curbside pickup or delivery instead of in person shopping) to a person with a disability who cannot wear a face covering. For more information on what is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act and our face covering policy, please see the Madison Office of Civil Rights website.
People wearing face coverings are doing so to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Assume that someone is wearing a face covering to protect themselves from COVID-19. Do not assume that they are wearing a face covering to conceal their identity, commit crimes, or because they have COVID-19 and are contagious. Businesses should not require that customers remove face coverings upon entry.
How to Get a Face Covering
Make Your Own
CDC has instructions for making your own face covering, with both sew and no-sew instructions. For the no-sew option, you'll need fabric, like an old t-shirt, cotton cloth, or bandana, rubber bands or hair ties, and scissors.
Get One from Your Community
Many crafty people have stepped up to make and donate face coverings in our community. Check your neighborhood groups on social media, Next Door, and other similar sites to see if someone is donating face coverings near you. We are also working with community partners to coordinate making face coverings more accessible. We'll add where to get them as soon as those details are available. Below are a few options:
- Individuals: Visit Dane County Mask Makers to request a face covering. You can also volunteer to make face coverings or donate.
- Organizations: Visit Dane County’s website to request face coverings for your organization
Using and Taking Care of Your Face Covering
Putting Your Face Covering On
- Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
- Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
- Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
- Make sure you can breathe easily
Taking Your Face Covering Off
- Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
- Handle only by the ear loops or ties
- Fold outside corners together
- Place covering in the washing machine (learn more about how to wash cloth face coverings)
- Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing.
Clean in a washing machine
- You can include your face covering with your regular laundry.
- Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the face covering.
- Washing by hand
- Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) household bleach per gallon of room temperature water or
- 4 teaspoons household bleach per quart of room temperature water
- Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection. Some bleach products, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing, may not be suitable for disinfection. Ensure the bleach product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
- Soak the face covering in the bleach solution for 5 minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly with cool or room temperature water.
- Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
- Drying in a Dryer. Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry.
- Drying by Air Dry. Lay flat and allow to completely dry. If possible, place the cloth face covering in direct sunlight.
Signs: Businesses and workplaces are required to post this sign (or a similar sign) about face coverings being required that is visible upon entering the property. All residential properties (such as apartment buildings and condominiums) that have shared common indoor spaces (such as mailrooms, lobbies, hallways) are required to post this sign (or a similar sign) about face coverings being required that is visible upon entering the property.
- Social media graphics: Promoting face coverings (#MaskUpMadison)
- Fact sheet: Using Cloth Face Coverings In the Workplace
- FAQ: Masks and the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Webinars: Understanding Order #8
How to Talk to Customers About This Order
Everyone who is able must wear a face covering in your establishment. If someone enters without a face covering, remind them about the policy. If they say they are unable to wear a face covering, you must offer reasonable accommodation, such as offering curbside or delivery service. If the individual chooses to decline the offered accommodations, the business owner is at liberty to decline them entry if they so choose. If your business can't offer alternative services to someone with a medical condition or disability (i.e., you run a gym), they should not be denied entry. They should follow the other provisions of the order, such as physical distancing. If someone simply refuses to wear a face covering, as a business owner you have the right to ask them to leave. For more information on what is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act and our face covering policy, please see the Madison Office of Civil Rights website.
Some strategies to discuss masks with customers could include:
- Offer an alternate service, such as curbside pickup or delivery, that meets the customer’s needs while also ensuring they are not indoors in your business.
- If possible, buy or ask for donations of face coverings that you could offer to customers who do not have them.
- Make it clear on your business’s website that face coverings are required in your business.
- Explain that this policy is county-wide and statewide in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The #MaskUpMadison and #MaskUpDane campaign is a collaboration to promote wearing face coverings in our community. Participants in the campaign will post photos and graphics with the relevant #MaskUp hashtag, including #MaskUpMadison, #MaskUpDane, or #MaskUpUW.
People are encouraged to share why wearing face coverings is important to them and how they are making face coverings wearing a habit. Spanish speakers can use the hashtags #PonteLaMáscaraMadison, #PonteLaMáscaraDane, and #PonteLaMáscaraUW.
Special thanks to our partners:
- Access Community Health Centers
- Boys & Girls Club of Dane County
- Centro Hispano
- City of Madison
- County of Dane
- Destination Madison
- Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness
- Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin
- J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.
- Latino Consortium for Action
- Latino Health Council
- Metcalfe’s Market
- Public Health Madison & Dane County
- Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association
- South Central Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
- SSM Health
- United Way of Dane County
- UnityPoint Health -- Meriter
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- UW Health
- Voces de la Frontera-Madison
- Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
- Wisconsin State AFL-CIO
Worker Justice Wisconsin
We will continue adding to this list as questions come in.
How long to I need to wear a face covering?
You are required to wear a face covering for the entire duration of the time you’re in an indoor setting with people you don’t live with. You also need to wear a face covering if you’re outside waiting in a line to go into an establishment. We strongly recommend wearing a face covering when you’re in an outdoor setting where you’re unable to maintain six feet of distance from people you don’t live with. Remember, with any gathering, physical distancing is required.
Do I need to wear a face covering indoors even if I can physical distance at all times?
Yes, if you are with individuals not from your household or living unit.
Am I required to wear a face covering when I am using public transportation, a taxi or a school bus?
Yes, you are required to wear a face covering when driving or riding on public transportation or in a paratransit vehicle, a taxi, a private car service vehicle, a ride-sharing vehicle, or any other for hire vehicle.
Am I required to wear a face covering when in my car?
Yes, if you are with individuals not from your household or living unit.
Do individuals that have already tested positive for COVID-19 still have to wear a face covering?
When is a face covering not needed?
You do not need to wear one:
- At home, when you do not have guests
- If you are in an office space with a closed door where no one could enter the space
- In your own car if you do not have passengers from another household or living unit
We strongly recommend wearing a face covering when you are outdoors and unable to stay six feet from people you don’t live with. It’s a good idea to keep a face covering with you at all times so it’s ready to use in case you run into a situation where distancing isn’t possible.
Do I need to wear a face covering when I’m just going over to someone’s house?
Yes, if you’re going inside their home. We strongly recommend wearing one if you’re outside and may be unable to maintain six feet of distance from people you don’t live with. Remember, with any gathering, physical distancing is required.
Do I need to wear a face covering while walking my dog, out for a jog, etc.
The orders do not require a face covering outside unless you are waiting in a line to enter an indoor building or in an confined space open to the public where individuals congregate such as an outdoor bar, outdoor restaurant, or outdoor park structure. It’s a good idea to keep one with you in case you need it.
Is my employer required to provide me with a face covering if I need to wear one at work?
Yes. See our workplace requirements for more information.
I’m not able to wear a face covering for medical condition, mental health reason, or disability. Do I need documentation about why I can’t wear a face covering?
Are face shields considered a face covering?
No. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings.
A face shield that covers the entire person’s face and is secured at the top and bottom of the face with fabric or other enclosures that ensures there are no gaps or openings on the top or bottom is allowed as a face covering.
Can I wear a mask that has a valve?
No. A mask with a valves is not considered a face covering as it does not prevent droplets from escaping. If you have a mask with a valve, you would need to cover the mask with another face covering that is allowed under the Order, such as a cloth face covering.
My goggles or glasses fog up when I wear a face covering. What can I do?
Here are some tips.
Is a space that has some open walls considered an outdoor space?
No, a space must be completely open on all sides to be outdoors. Opening windows does not create an outdoor space. Masks are also required in outdoor confined spaces open to the public where individuals congregate such as outdoor restaurants, outdoor bars, and outdoor park structures.
Are face coverings required inside gyms and yoga studios?
Yes. The order provides the following exemption: Individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering.
Do I need to wear a face covering while swimming or in a pool?
No. A face covering should be used as you are coming to and going from the pool.
I live in an apartment or condo with multiple units. Am I required to wear a face covering in the common areas (hallways, lobby, etc.)?
Yes. Individuals are required to wear a face covering in any indoor space where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, could be present. Apartments and condominiums that have shared common indoor spaces (such as mailrooms, lobbies, hallways) are required to post this sign (or a similar sign) about face coverings being required that is visible upon entering the property.
If I am in an enclosed office alone with a door do I need to wear a face covering?
Staff would only need to use a face covering if indoors and could come into contact with others who are not part of their household or living unit. If staff are in an office space with a closed door where no one could enter the space then no face covering is needed.
How do I wear a face covering while I’m eating or at a restaurant?
You can remove your face covering while actively eating and drinking. You should wear it when waiting for your food or in transit inside a restaurant.
Do I need to wear a face covering when I am picking up food outside using curbside service?
A face covering is not required, but recommended.
Are workers that sleep at their place of employment (for example: EMS, firefighters, paramedics) required to wear face coverings while sleeping?
No, face coverings are not required while sleeping. Physical distancing must be maintained.
What do I do if I see someone not wearing a face covering, even though they should be?
Nothing. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a face covering difficult or dangerous. Just wear your face covering and stay six feet away.
Children, Childcare, and Schools
How do I get my child to wear a face covering?
The order requires children five and older to wear face coverings, and we know this may be difficult. It’s always helpful to explain to kids why you’re asking them to do something. In this case, you can explain that wearing a face covering will help keep them from getting other people sick. It can be helpful to relate the explanation to people who are close to them, like grandparents or parents. Even though their grandparent might live in another state, you can explain that the people they pass in the grocery store or doctor’s office might be another person’s grandparent, and we want to keep those grandparents safe. We like these additional tips from KidsHealth and Childrens' Minnesota.
Does my child need to wear a face covering on a school bus?
Yes, children five and older are required to wear a face covering when riding on public transportation or in a school bus, paratransit vehicle, a taxi, a private car service vehicle, a ride-sharing vehicle, or any other for hire vehicle.
Does my child need to wear a face covering to go to daycare?
Face coverings are required for children five years and older. Children younger than two should never wear a face covering due to risk of suffocation. Children who are two, three, or four years old, with the assistance and close supervision of an adult, are strongly recommend to wear a face covering at all times when it is difficult to maintain distancing.
Are children required to wear face coverings during nap time?
No, face coverings are not required while sleeping. Physical distancing must be maintained.
Can I sign a waiver so my child does not need to wear a face covering at their child care or school?
No, signing a waiver will not supersede the Orders face coverings. Exemptions are for individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering.
What if the child care center or school has a classroom with mixed ages?
Anyone over the age of five in the classroom is required to wear a face covering. Children who are two, three, or four years old, with the assistance and close supervision of an adult, are strongly recommend to wear a face covering at all times when it is difficult to maintain distancing. It is up to your child care center if you want children over the age of two to wear a face covering in classrooms with mixed ages.
I work as a nanny. Am I required to wear a face covering in the home of the family I work for?
Yes, whenever you are in an indoor space with individuals that are not part of your household or living unit, you are required to wear a face covering.