The new Dane County emergency order issued yesterday to enforce stricter safety guidelines will not affect the University of Wisconsin campus operations.
The order tightened restrictions on indoor gatherings, prohibiting them altogether. Additionally, outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people with social distancing and mask measures.
Though, the new executive order exempts the UW campus and its operations from the new guidelines.
“Continuing education and higher education institutions may determine policies and practices for safe operations,” the order stated. “However, these institutions may not open congregate living situations including dormitories without strict policies that ensure safe living conditions.”
UW has taken several actions following the announcement of the order. Due to Emergency Order #10, UW’s RecWell center canceled all in-person group fitness classes from now until the end of the semester.
According to UW Housing, several changes will be made to dining services on campus. UW Housing dining buildings will only be accessible by UW Housing staff and residents, and all dine-in seating will be closed until further notice.
In a press statement, public health director Janel Heinrich said this order does not intend to target non-essential businesses, but rather keep the community safe during the recent uptick in cases.
“We ask that everyone exercise good judgment and follow the orders,” Heinrich said. “The intention of the order is not to penalize businesses or individuals, but to keep everyone safe during this pandemic.”
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Heinrich also said she hopes the community will take such restrictions seriously in an effort to decrease the number of cases and curb the length of the pandemic.
“This virus does not spread on its own,” Heinrich said. “We spread it. Every gathering — no matter the size — is an opportunity for disease spread and prolongs the pandemic. We are hopeful that with the community’s cooperation, we can bring our numbers down and avoid more hospitalizations and deaths.”
According to a Public Health Madison and Dane County statement, cases have increased by 292% since Oct. 7.
Public health officials also asked the community to continue to work from home if able, wear a mask, avoid close contact with others and stay home if sick, according to a statement.
The order went into effect today and will remain in effect until Dec. 16.
In addition, Gov. Tony Evers issued a statement indicating he plans to extend Wisconsin’s mask mandate and state of emergency until January, but he noted tougher restrictions seen in other states aren’t likely to pass in Wisconsin due to ongoing conflicts with the Republican-controlled state legislature.