- Medium and large gatherings, especially those hosted indoors, contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
- In areas of substantial and high transmission, fully vaccinated people should wear masks in public indoor settings and also consider wearing them in crowded outdoor settings.
- Wisconsin is seeing high to critically high transmission across our state.
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.
- 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:
- Get vaccinated.
- 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.
- 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.
COVID-19 vaccines greatly reduce your chance of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. The majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are occurring in people who are not fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning it has been two weeks or longer since they have finished their vaccine series, can feel safer engaging in social situations.
Vaccination continues to be our best layer of protection against COVID-19, especially when paired with other public health best practices. People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take precautions including wearing a mask, and practicing physical distancing and good hygiene until advised otherwise by their health care provider. Additional doses and booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine are available for people who are immunocompromised or whose protection from the primary vaccine series has likely decreased over time.
If you are fully vaccinated, you should still wear masks in certain settings, including public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high transmission. You may also choose to wear a mask, regardless of the level of transmission, especially if you are around someone who is at increased risk of severe disease.
Guidance for specific activities
Here we share tips for staying safe during holiday celebrations, at farmers markets and more. Find guidance for specific activities on the CDC website.
All counties in Wisconsin are experiencing high to critically high COVID-19 transmission. Celebrate Halloween safely this year and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your community by following good public health behaviors.
Ideas for safe Halloween celebrations
- Celebrate with those in your household to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Host or participate in a virtual event, such as a costume or pumpkin carving contest.
- Bake seasonal treats and drop them off at your neighbor's door, with no contact.
- Hold online scary movie nights.
- Visit a drive-through haunted house.
As we transition into the fall season, it is important to know that attending gatherings and celebrations, especially those that are hosted indoors, increases the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.
- People who are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older should wear a mask in indoor public places. If you are eligible for the vaccine and have not been vaccinated yet, get vaccinated as soon as you are able.
- If you choose to gather with friends and family outside of your household, explore outdoor options and activities and remain at least 6 feet apart. If you can't stay at least 6 feet apart from people who don't live with you, wear a mask.
- In general, you do not need to wear a mask outside. However, because Wisconsin is experiencing high COVID-19 transmission, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings for activities with close contact with others who may not be fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.
- Ideas for celebrating outdoors:
- Tell spooky stories outdoors with people from different households at least 6 feet apart.
- Carve pumpkins outdoors with your neighbors 6 or more feet apart.
- If you gather indoors, everyone should wear a mask, remain at least 6 feet apart, and allow for good air ventilation by opening windows and doors when possible.
Help protect children while Trick-or-Treating by providing no-contact options:
- Get creative! Leave Halloween treats or bags with goodies outside your door or at the end of your driveway.
- Have hand sanitizer available.
- Everyone should wear costumes with a well-fitting mask that covers their nose and mouth.
- Everyone should stay at least 6 feet apart from people outside of their household. Avoid crowded doorsteps.
- Everyone should wash their hands before eating treats.
- Stay home from Trick-or-Treating if you feel sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
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.
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:
- Online video recordings
- Live streams
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.
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.