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 covers all of Wisconsin and one from Public Health Madison & Dane County.
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.
When do I need to wear a face covering?
Under the state and local 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, are present.
- Outdoors while actively participating in sports, including drills, practices, scrimmages, games, and competitions.
- Outdoors while attending a gathering of more than 50 individuals.
- In line to enter any enclosed building.
- Driving or riding in any vehicle where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit are present.
- In any other confined space open to the public where individuals congregate where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, are present, including but not limited to, outdoor taverns, outdoor restaurants, and outdoor park structures.
What is considered a face covering?
A face covering is defined as: a piece of cloth or other material that is worn to cover the nose and mouth completely. Cloth face coverings must be made with two or more layers of breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source). A face covering does not include bandanas, single layer neck gaiters, face shields, goggles, scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, shirt or sweater collars pulled up over the mouth and nose, or masks with slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.
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.
How can I make sure my mask is as effective as possible?
CDC has issued new guidance about ways to increase the effectiveness of your mask by ensuring it fits well. Strategies include wearing a mask with a nose wire, using a mask fitter or brace, wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask, and using the knot and tuck method. Examples and pictures are all available on the CDC website.
When can I remove my face covering?
There are exceptions for when a face covering can be removed. Exceptions include:
- While eating or drinking
- When communicating with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing and communication cannot be achieved through other means
- While obtaining a service that requires the temporary removal of the face covering, such as dental services
- While sleeping
- While swimming or on duty as a lifeguard
- When engaging in work where wearing a face covering would create a risk to the individual, as determined by government safety guidelines
- When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity, including when entering a financial institution
- When federal or state law or regulations prohibit wearing a face covering
- Outdoors while actively participating in sports that are played individually or played with six (6) feet physical distancing at all times
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. If you are outside at a gathering with more than 50 individuals, it's required that you wear a face covering. 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.
Who is exempted from wearing a face covering?
Some people are also exempted from wearing a face covering. Exemptions include:
- Children under the age of five (5).
- Individuals who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
- Individuals with medical conditions, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, or other sensory sensitivities that prevent the individual from wearing a face covering. 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.
I think a business is operating unlawfully. What can I do?
We are counting on the good judgment of residents in deciding when to go out. The intention of this order is not penalize individuals but to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. Please email us if you believe a business is operating unlawfully.
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.
Employees concerned about safety at work
For employees returning to a work environment that is not following the orders and are concerned about their safety, please review our fact sheet, workplace requirements for employers and workers.
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.
- Fact sheet: Using Cloth Face Coverings In the Workplace
- FAQ: Masks and the Americans with Disabilities Act
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.