On Thursday, September 3, 2020, Waukesha County updated its large gathering recommendation in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak. The new guidance advises indoor venues may host events at 50% capacity, or up to 250 individuals, whichever number is less, with a focus on maintaining appropriate social distancing. Outdoor events may exceed 250 individuals when proper outdoor space, separation of groups, social distancing, and other CDC guidelines are followed. Previous recommendation advised that groups of up to 100 people could gather. The recommendations apply to special events such as weddings and sporting events, not daily business functions.
“The decision to increase the large gathering recommendation is based on a methodical course of action,” said Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow. “Positive cases of COVID-19 have significantly decreased in each of the past three weeks, hospitals can safely treat all local patients, testing capabilities remain sufficient, and our team of disease investigators and contact tracers has grown tenfold to a force of over 200 people.”
All individuals, when in public, should consider maximizing physical distance from others. When physical distancing is not possible, individuals should wear a mask.
Indoor Setting Guidance
All large events in which individuals congregate in a social setting, should limit capacity to 50% or 250 individuals, whichever is less, with a focus on maintaining appropriate social distancing.
Outdoor Setting Guidance
Taking into account recommendations provided by the CDC, if the outdoor space allows, and the ability to separate groups of people is feasible, certain large gatherings could safely accommodate more than 250 individuals. In these cases, special attention should be paid to appropriate social distancing and other measures, like wearing masks in places where people congregate, such as restrooms and concession areas.
The large gathering guidance has been issued as a recommendation, rather than an order, to allow residents to safely conduct business and other activities moving forward. Waukesha County reevaluates its large gathering recommendation at regular intervals. The recommended number of people that should socially gather may either increase or decrease based upon the status of area hospitals and other data. In the case of a dramatic increase in cases of COVID-19, or the inability of area hospitals to care for patients in need of treatment, the county may be forced to issue orders to help reduce the spread of the disease.
For the latest information on cases in the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
For the latest information on cases in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS)
For the latest information on cases in Waukesha County:
Waukesha County Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
For information on changes to Waukesha County Operations
Services Updates and Closures
Waukesha County Health Department aims to prevent the spread of illness among the public by offering educational resources, communicable disease surveillance, and investigation when needed. Waukesha County Public Health has been monitoring and curating the large quantity of information made available to the public since the coronavirus (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Our team of public health professionals have been hard at work preparing for and monitoring the coronavirus.
What you should know about COVID-19:
For questions or immediate needs related to COVID-19:
Is Waukesha County’s large gathering recommendation an order?
Waukesha County has issued a set of recommendations for county residents and businesses, rather than orders, to allow them to safely conduct business and other activities moving forward. These recommendations provide industries with the necessary flexibility to resume operations while being mindful of CDC recommendations.
My planned event will likely attract more people than the large gathering recommendation.
If everyone is socially distanced or I have separate spaces to accommodate everyone in smaller groups, will it count as several smaller gatherings? Even when people are split into different groups, rooms or areas, shared facilities or spaces (such as bathrooms, concessions stands, parking lots, and main walking pathways) increases the likelihood the groups in that crowd will comingle and be exposed to each other. Regardless of the size of the gathering, social distancing protocols as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are recommended to be followed as much as possible.
When will the large gathering recommendation change?
Waukesha County will continue to evaluate its current large gathering recommendation based upon the status of area hospitals, contact tracing capacity, testing and other gating criteria, which can be seen here.
Will Waukesha County increase the group size in its large gathering recommendation?
The recommended number of people to gather may either increase or decrease. In the case of a dramatic increase in cases of COVID-19 in the county, or the inability of area hospitals to care for patients in need of treatment, the county may be forced to issue orders to help reduce the spread of the disease.
Does Waukesha County differentiate between indoor and outdoor gatherings?
Yes. Taking into account additional recommendations provided by the CDC, outdoor events will not be held to the suggested 250 person limitation. If the outdoor space allows, and the ability to separate groups of people is feasible, certain large gatherings could safely accommodate more individuals. In these cases, special attention should be paid to appropriate social distancing and other measures, like wearing masks, at entrances and exits, around restrooms, near concession areas, or other places where people tend to congregate.
Why does Waukesha County have different recommendations for indoor and outdoor gatherings?
Waukesha County is following the lead of the CDC in making a distinction between indoor and outdoor gatherings. It is widely accepted that outdoor activities are generally safer than events held indoors due increased airflow and the ability of individuals to appropriately space themselves apart from on another. Regardless of the location of the event, Waukesha County recommends appropriate social distancing and the use of other mitigating measures to protect event attendees and the general public.
Does the guidance apply to my everyday business operation?
No, Both the 250 person limitation and the 50% capacity guidance apply to special events and mass gatherings only, and does not apply to bars and restaurants or other businesses conducting normal day-to-day operations.