Dane County Public Health Emergency Order #13

Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) has issued a new public health order, Emergency Order #13. The new order, effective February 10, 2021, includes significant changes to the face covering requirements, indoor and outdoor capacity limits, and permitted sports activities. The primary changes are summarized below and are outlined in PHMDC’s comparison of Emergency Orders #12 and #13.

Face Coverings

  • Face coverings must be secured with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head and fit snuggly against the side of the face. Cloth face masks must be made with two or more layers of tightly woven fabric. PHMDC suggests holding up the face mask to a light. If light does not pass through, the fabric is sufficiently “tightly woven.” Bandanas, single layer neck gaiters, face shields, goggles, scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, shirt or sweater collars, and masks with slits, exhalation valves, or punctures are not face coverings under the order.
    • The updated face covering requirements reflect guidance from the CDC.
  • In addition to settings included in previous orders, face coverings are also required outdoors while actively participating in sports and/or while attending an outdoor gathering of more than 50 individuals.
    • Face coverings are not required outdoors while participating in a sport if it is played individually or with six feet physical distancing at all times.


  • PHMDC has replaced the term “mass gatherings” with “gatherings.
  • The definition of gatherings has not changed. As a reminder, it includes meetings, conferences, exercise classes, trainings, sporting events, parties, and other planned events.
  • Indoor gatherings with food or drink are permitted with up to 25 individuals. Indoor gatherings without food or drink are permitted with up to 50 individuals.
  • Outdoor gatherings with food or drink are permitted with up to 100 individuals. Outdoor gatherings without food or drink are permitted with up to 150 individuals.
  • The capacity limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings do not include employees or individuals living in the same household.
  • Individuals must maintain 6 feet physical distancing.

Child Care

  • Childcare centers and 4K are no longer limited to 15 children per classroom or group. All other requirements remain in place, including 6 feet physical distancing to the greatest extent possible for children 5 years and older.

Youth Settings

  • Youth classes and groups (i.e., any group or class that does not constitute childcare or 4K) are subject to the indoor and outdoor gathering limits outlined above. All other requirements from the previous emergency order remain in place, including 6 feet physical distancing to the greatest extent possible.


  • All individuals – athletes, coaches, referees, spectators, and others – not actively participating in the sport must maintain 6 feet physical distancing at all times.
  • Proper face coverings must be worn in compliance with the face covering requirements outlined above.
  • Sports that can maintain physical distancing at all times must follow the indoor and outdoor gathering limits outlined above. All other sports are limited to 25 individuals indoors and 100 individuals outdoors. These limits do not include employees.
  • All sports’ organizing entities must:
    • develop and implement hygiene, cleaning, and protective measure policies, with specific provisions included in the emergency order (see Section 4.d. of the order);
    • document receipt, acknowledgment, or training on the policies;
    • implement PHMDC’s Sports Action Plan; and
    • ensure all individuals participating in the sports activity are aware of the above policies and action plan.

The other requirements from previous PHMDC emergency orders remain in place. You can find Lake Effect’s summaries of the previous orders here.

Lake Effect is here to answer your questions about how local and state public health orders apply to employers. We continue to monitor important legal and HR developments, as well as COVID-related updates from federal, state, and local authorities. Please keep watching our blogs and emails for these important updates, as well as discussions of how compliance meets culture. To dive into these issues, contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Governor Evers Extends Statewide Public Health Emergency and Mask Mandate

On February 4, 2021, the Wisconsin Legislature struck down the existing statewide mask mandate and public health emergency. In response, Governor Tony Evers issued Executive Order #105, which declares a new state of emergency and public health emergency for 60 days or until it is revoked or overturned. Governor Evers also issued a new Emergency Order #1 implementing once again a statewide mask mandate until March 20, 2021. This emergency order maintains the same face mask requirements that were included in the previous mandates. Lake Effect’s summary of the requirements can be found here. The Governor’s new Emergency Order #1 supersedes any less restrictive local order.

OSHA Recommends Measures to Reduce Workplace Spread of COVID-19

Responding to a directive from the Biden administration, OSHA posted new guidance on January 29, 2021 to help non-healthcare employers identify COVID-19 risks and implement effective measures to minimize its spread in the workplace. The guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It is advisory in nature, containing recommendations and detailed descriptions of existing safety and health regulations. However, it will likely be one yardstick used to measure compliance with OSHA’s “General Duty Clause,” which requires employers to provide workers with a workplace free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious harm.

The new guidance specifies that implementing a workplace COVID-19 prevention program is the most effective way to reduce its spread at work. An effective program includes such elements as:

  • Assigning a workplace coordinator responsible for COVID-19 issues.
  • Identifying where and how employees might be exposed at work.
  • Identifying a combination of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 at work including separating and sending home potentially infected employees, implementing physical distancing and barriers, requiring face coverings, improving ventilation, and using applicable PPE, as well as good hygiene and cleaning/disinfection practices.
  • Providing reasonable accommodations or modifications to workers at higher risk of severe illness.
  • Effectively communicating with employees about COVID-19 in a language they understand and providing them with guidance on screening and testing.
  • Educating and training employees on COVID-19 policies and procedures.
  • Minimizing the negative impact of quarantine and isolation on workers by allowing telework or work at alternative locations where possible.
  • Recording and reporting COVID-19 infections and deaths consistent with applicable OSHA requirements. See Lake Effect’s blogs on this issue.
  • Establishing a process for employees to anonymously express concerns about COVID-19 hazards and ensuring that they are not discriminated or retaliated against in any way.
  • Making COVID-19 vaccines available to employees and requiring all employees to follow preventive practices, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.  See Lake Effect’s blog on this issue.

This is not an exhaustive list of OSHA’s new recommendations, and this new guidance contains detailed information about each aspect of an effective workplace COVID-19 prevention program. Employers should work closely with legal counsel to understand all requirements and implement a COVID-19 workplace prevention program consistent with this new OSHA guidance. Lake Effect is here to help you through this process and ensure that you are taking all possible steps to provide a workplace free from the recognized hazards created by the COVID-19.

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