MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) -- Businesses in Madison and Dane County can resume some operations this week after the Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County issued a new public health order order to begin Phase 1 of the county's reopening plan. The order begins May 26, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. Retail stores, bars, restaurants, gyms, salons and other businesses will be allowed to accept customers, as long as they follow the guidelines laid out in the Forward Dane plan.

“We released Forward Dane so everyone in the community could see the requirements that needed to be met for us to continue opening businesses, while still balancing the health and safety of our residents,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public health Madison & Dane County.

“We are receiving hundreds of test results each day and have analyzed additional data from the community testing site at the Alliant Energy Center. We feel confident that our county can take the next step in the reopening process at this time,” added Heinrich.

As of Monday, May 25, 2020 Dane County had recorded 615 cases of Covid-19 and 26 deaths. More than 26,000 people have been tested for coronavirus since testing began in March. Data for the county is updated daily and includes active and recovered cases, plus hospitalizations in the county.

The Forward Dane plan allows businesses to open with 25% percent capacity, as long as they follow public health requirements and physical distancing. Local parks, tennis and basketball courts and fields are open but physical distancing is a must. Public outdoor playgrounds and public splash pads are closed. Churches, mosques, temples and other house of worship may open at 25% capacity and social distancing is required.

Anyone over the age of 5-years-old in Dane County can get tested for free at the Alliant Energy Center. The site is being coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and National Guard. No appointment is needed and Spanish and Hmong translators are available onsite. 

Businesses like Twigs, a retail clothing shop at the Hilldale Shopping Center said they have been grateful for customers supporting them online the past two months, but are excited to open the store now too.

"Having our doors open is really an important milestone and means everything for our survival as a small business," said Leah Suelflow, director of stores for Twigs.

Food Fight Group, which represents several Madison-area restaurants, said it is working to open some of its partner restaurants for in-person dining. They are planning socially distant settings and most of the restaurants will be accessible through reservations only.

"We feel confident that we are providing a safe environment for our guests and employees, and we're following all guidelines and recommendations by Public Health Madison & Dane County and the CDC," Food Fight Group said in a statement.

Food Fight restaurants are screening employees for illness before they come in and asking them to stay home if they or someone they are in close contact with do not feel well. The group plans on reassesing after a week to see if it needs to make operational adjustments. They hope to open more restaurants each week.