COVID-19: Staying Safe in Your Community

On July 27, 2021, CDC updated recommendations that everyone in areas with substantial and high transmission, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear a mask in public indoor settings. DHS encourages local leaders to look at CDC’s classifications of community transmission in their county to make decisions on mask guidance. DHS data, including the COVID-19 Disease Activity dashboard and COVID-19 cases and deaths maps, provide additional context on COVID-19 activity in Wisconsin’s local regions. Together, these metrics should be used to make informed decisions on universal mask recommendations for public, indoor settings.

 

Two adults wearing masks doing yoga outdoors

We’re all connected—by our health, by our actions, and by our commitment to each other. It is up to each of us to take simple steps, like getting vaccinated, staying home when sick, and wearing a mask when required to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community from COVID-19. Your actions can help protect everyone in Wisconsin.

Understand the risks

The risk of participating in a certain activity depends on many factors. Because of this, there’s no way to assign risk levels to certain actions. That’s why it’s important to consider your own situation and the risks for you, your family, and your community. Here are some of the questions you can ask and consider before venturing out.

  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community?
  • Will you potentially be in close contact with someone who is sick or someone who is not wearing a mask (and may be asymptomatic)?
  • Are you at increased risk of severe illness?
  • Do you take everyday actions to protect yourself from COVID-19?
  • Are you fully vaccinated?
  • Will you be in close contact with people outside of your household? Are they fully vaccinated?

We recognize some people have privileges and resources that allow them to choose how and when to interact in person and impact their access to vaccination, while others must work to provide the goods, services, and care we depend on. We know that many people do not have a choice of where they work or live, and that some cannot engage in prevention practices or face barriers to vaccination due to underlying conditions, socioeconomic factors, or systemic racism.

It is because of this that we must come together as a community to protect each other and those of us who can must continue following public health best practices to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

Best practices for staying safe

Here are some important guidelines to help ensure everyone’s safety: 

  • Wear a mask.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other people when possible.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Get vaccinated.
  • Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces when possible.
  • If you choose to attend a gathering, keep it small, preferably outdoors, and with only one other household. 
  • If attending an event or gathering where food is being served:
    • Use single-use cups, plates, and utensils if possible. 
    • Avoid crowding in areas where food is being served. 
    • Avoid “potluck” or buffet style food options. 

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning it has been two weeks or longer since they have finished their vaccine series, can safely engage in some social situations without wearing a mask or practicing physical distancing. However, even if you are fully vaccinated, you should continue to wear masks in certain settings, including areas of substantial and high transmission.

If you are not fully vaccinated yet, DHS continues to advise against attending and hosting gatherings with people who don’t live with you and who are not fully vaccinated. Gathering with other unvaccinated people you do not live with is still considered a high-risk activity that contributes to the spread of COVID-19. 

Guidance for specific activities

Here we share tips for staying safe at farmers markets and faith-based events and services. Find more guidance for specific activities on the CDC website.

 Farmers markets

The following guidance is from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Department of Health Services (DHS). This guidance was created in partnership with Kristin Krokowski, commercial horticulture educator with the UW-Madison Division of Extension.

Farmers markets should follow applicable state, local, and tribal public health recommendations, and work with their local and tribal public health departments who can help assess the current level of mitigation needed in their specific area. 

Best practices

These best practices can help to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at farmers markets; they are not requirements. Each market should proactively take action to provide a safe shopping environment, while considering the needs of the community and any applicable state and local orders.

What can the market do?

  • Encourage shoppers, vendors and market staff over the age of two to wear masks. Masks are not recommended for children under 2 years old or for people with a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask.
  • Maintain physical distancing between all individuals on the premises to the maximum extent possible, with 6 feet being an appropriate standard.
  • Provide an adequate number of handwashing and/or hand sanitizer stations for the expected number of customers and vendors.
  • Limit or eliminate music, tabling, activities, promotions, and pets at the market.
  • Minimize funneling customers between two lines of vendors where the lines from the vendors block thru-traffic, thereby creating a crowd.
  • Assign vendor locations so that customers and vendors can maintain a safe interpersonal distance of at least 6 feet.
  • Post physical distancing messaging and signage. Consider using picture-based messaging or translating signs into the languages used by those in your community and the customers you serve.

What can vendors do?

  • Wear a mask that fully covers your mouth and nose, and wear it throughout your time at the market.
  • Avoid coming to the market if you feel sick, and encourage your employees to stay home from the market if they feel sick.
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Encourage regular hand washing among employees as well.
  • Use hand sanitizer only on visibly clean hands; hand sanitizer is not effective when hands are visibly dirty.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from customers and other vendors whenever possible.
  • As a general food safety practice, avoid bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods to help reduce the risk of contamination.

What can customers do?

  • Wear a mask that fully covers your mouth and nose, and wear it throughout your time at the market.
  • Avoid going to a farmers market if you or someone in your household is sick.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from other customers and vendors whenever possible.
  • Minimize the number of people you bring with you to the market. This helps limit crowd size.
  • Use hand sanitizer or hand washing stations frequently.

 Faith-based events and services

Mental and physical health are important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and so is spiritual health. Taking time to be mindful, meditate, and pray are great ways to practice spirituality individually or with other household members.

Instead of attending spiritual gatherings in person, you can safely view or listen to almost any form of spiritual service through:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Online video recordings
  • Live streams
  • Podcasts

If you choose to attend spiritual gatherings in person, take steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 -- keep 6 feet from others, frequently wash your hands, and get vaccinated when you are able. If you are not yet fully vaccinated, wear a mask. For additional resources and guidance on how to safely practice or observe your faith, reach out to your spiritual community and its local leaders. 


Get vaccinated

One of the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, free, and now widely available. In fact, everyone 12 years and older is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, and you do not need an ID or insurance to get it.

 

Adult wearing a mask giving a thumbs up while in her car

Last Revised: July 30, 2021

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 The information on this page contains Department of Health Services (DHS) recommendations, some of which may be required based on state or local orders. Please contact your local or tribal health department for more information on COVID-19 related public health orders in your community.