What will reopen (and in what capacity) in Rock County this Thursday

JANESVILLE, Wis. — The Rock County Public Health Department released its plan Tuesday for a phased reopening of the county’s businesses and activities, in addition to a data dashboard to help track the county’s progress.

In addition to the new guidance, Rock County leaders announced that the county’s Safer at Home Order will be lifted Thursday at 8 a.m.

Public Health Officer Marie-Noel Sandoval said that Rock County can move forward into Phase 1 of its reopening plan, which means libraries, religious places, restaurants and retail stores, among others, can reopen to allow up to 25% of the business’ normal capacity with social distancing rules in place.

Also under the Phase 1 plan, pools, bowling alleys, movie theaters and other “indoor and outdoor places of public amusement” can open at 25% capacity.

Salons, Spas and barbers will also reopen, but are instructed not to accept walk-in customers and are asked to keep a one-to-one customer to staff ratio.

Rock County’s new COVID-19 dashboard tracks numerous metrics including the percent of new positive tests, hospitals’ preparedness to deal with potential outbreaks and the number of healthcare workers who test positive over a 14-day period. Each of the metrics will be categorized by red, yellow or green codes. Red means progress toward satisfying the criteria has not been made, yellow means progress is being made and green means the criteria has been met.

“We have to be nimble,” Sandoval said. “We have to be able to step back, step up and adjust as we go.”

Officials said the plan includes recommendations to help guide businesses toward a safe reopening. Rock County health officials also noted that while it isn’t mandatory to follow the guidance, Sandoval said businesses should feel a responsibility to follow the recommendations to keep the community safe.

Sandoval says while the county is moving towards reopening, there is still a possibility guidelines will have to be put in place should the state see a second wave of cases.

“It hasn’t gone away. It isn’t less contagious or lethal. There’s no vaccine, but there’s treatement,” she said. “Everybody needs to do their part for this to be successful.”

The City of Beloit had previously approved its own plan to reopen during Monday night’s city council meeting, however city leaders say they’re now reviewing the county’s plan.

Beloit has been the largest COVID-19 hot spot within the county, responsible for nearly two-thirds of cases despite making up roughly 20% of the county’s population.

Numerous counties throughout Wisconsin have enacted similar plans or put local public health orders in place.

Watch the video below to hear Rock County leaders explain the county’s new dashboard.