Dane County to allow for larger indoor gatherings, more restaurant seating under new public health order

MADISON, Wis. — Dane County leaders continue to ease restrictions on gatherings under a new public health order that goes into effect later this month.

Emergency Order #14 goes into effect on March 10. It expires on April 7.

Public Health Madison & Dane County officials discussed the new emergency order and shared the new metrics for reopening businesses Tuesday afternoon.

Gathering Limits

Indoor gathering sizes are based on whether or not food or drinks will be served. Gatherings inside offering refreshments are limited to 150 guests. Indoor events not offering food or drinks are capped at 350 people.

Outdoor gatherings are limited to 500 people as long as people are able to maintain six feet of physical distancing. Gatherings are considered a planned event, including concerts, festivals, meetings, performances, sporting events and parties.

The current order allowed for up to 50 people at indoor gatherings where refreshments were not served and 25 for those offering food and drinks. The current order also capped outdoor gatherings at 150 people when food was not served.

Religious worship services are exempt are exempt from gathering limits.

Restaurants and Taverns

The new order also allows for restaurants to serve more people. Later this month, restaurants will be able to serve up to 50% of approved-seating capacity.  Indoor seating, up to 25% of approved seating capacity levels, will also be allowed at bars and taverns.


In-person schooling is still offered under the new order. Students and staff must maintain at least six feet of social distancing whenever possible.

Common areas such as cafeterias, auditoriums and gymnasiums can be used as classrooms or places to provide food and as child care and youth settings. Student groupings should be in distinct spaces within common areas and student groupings may not mix with other student groupings.


Games and competitions are allowed for all sports. Individuals must wear face coverings in most of these situations, according to PHMDC. Physical distancing is required, except when an individual is actively participating in the sport.

Sports are required to follow the gathering limits listed above.

All sports must have a hygiene policy, cleaning policy and protective measure policy in place.


Gyms are allowed to remain open at 50% capacity. Facilities must provide members with cleaning supplies to disinfect equipment before and after use.

Gyms also still allowed to offer group exercise classes as long as participants follow the rules set for indoor gatherings.

Saunas and steam rooms are to remain closed.

Salons and Spas

Salons and spas must limit business to 50% of approved building capacity. Work stations must be spaced at least 6 feet apart from one another.

Face Coverings

The new order still requires people to wear face coverings in public spaces.

Violation of the emergency order could result in a $1,000 fine, according to the City of Madison.

The public health orders will continue to be issued in 28 day increments, which is two incubation periods of COVID-19 illness, and are developed in response to the latest local data.

You can read about the new emergency order in detail here.