Rock Co. lifts mask mandate, effective immediately

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Published: May. 14, 2021 at 1:16 PM CDT|Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 6:42 PM CDT
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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - Rock Co. has ended its mask order.

The county’s Public Health Officer Katrina Harwood signed the new order ending the mandate on Friday, explaining that the change comes in light of new CDC guidance that people who are fully vaccinated can safely resume normal activities and are less likely to spread coronavirus to others.

“Now that more of our residents have been vaccinated, we are removing the mask order so that those people can take advantage of the benefits of being vaccinated,” Harwood said. The health department also reminded people getting vaccinated that, to be considered fully vaccinated, they must wait two weeks after receiving their final dose.

Even with the mask requirement lifted, Rock Co. health officials still strongly urge people wear face coverings in healthcare settings, schools, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters, saying those places present a higher risk of transmission.

The School District of Janesville released a statement Friday afternoon, after the mandate was repealed, saying it will continue requiring masks for everyone ages 5 and older.

Sharen Hoskins, owner of the Wedge Inn Cafe and East Point Sportz Pub, said she will enforce her own mask rule for non-vaccinated staff. “I want to encourage them to get vaccinated,” she said.

Meanwhile, Celeste Maciel said she’ll be moving on despite lingering fears about coronavirus. She will be welcoming unmasked customers into her pet grooming shop All Paws Spaw. “It’s their choice,” she said.

While the mask mandate may be lifted, the rest of Rock County’s recovery plan remains in effect, as is.

Harwood explained that county officials are “optimistic” about reopening, they would still like time to review the data to see how ending the mask order will affect the Rock County’s trajectory before into the next phase of its recovery plan.

Right now, Rock Co. remains in phase two, which sets a 50% capacity gap on indoor gatherings for most businesses.

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