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Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 20, 2020

MADISON — The Evers’ administration’s “catastrophic” emergency edict capping capacity at public gatherings to 25 percent is on again after a Barron County judge rejected a request to extend an order stopping it.

Circuit Court Judge James Babler on Monday decided the Tavern League of Wisconsin — plaintiffs in a lawsuit against state Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm — did not show “irreparable harm.” 

The Tavern League, which represents 5,000-plus members, begged to differ. 

“We are obviously disappointed in the ruling and the catastrophic effects it will continue to have on small businesses across Wisconsin,” TLW President Chris Marsicano wrote on the group’s Facebook site. “We will continue to operate observing the best practices of the WEDC to provide a safe environment for our employees and customers.” 

The league’s attorney did not return a request for comment. 

So, unless the Legislature intervenes or another legal challenge is filed, it appears Evers Administration Emergency Order #3 will remain in effect until Nov. 6. The order limits public gatherings at bars and restaurants to 25 percent of the occupancy limit as established by their local government, and if no limit is established, public gatherings are restricted to no more than 10 people. 

Evers celebrated Babler’s ruling. 

“The crisis is urgent,” the Democrat said in a statement urging Wisconsinites to “stay home,” limit travel and wear a face covering — another one of his orders that courts and the Republican-controlled Legislature have been reluctant to stop.

Gov. Tony Evers and his health czar have pushed increasingly restrictive emergency orders in the face of rising COVID-19 positive cases in Wisconsin, so it’s possible they could issue another order, extend the existing edict or issue even greater restrictions. 

The pandemic and the oppressive government orders have been hard on bars, restaurants and hotels. Team Evers’ strict public gathering limits are making things a lot worse. 

“When you take somebody to 25 percent occupancy, that’s tough on all of us,” said Michael Wells, owner of the Snowshoe Saloon & Liquor Store in Hayward. “I have an occupancy of 40 and I go down to 10.

“It’s going to be a big bite out of my sales.” 

Babler’s ruling followed Sawyer County Judge John Yackel’s decision last week to slap a temporary restraining order on Palm’s order. It was to remain in effect until terminated. Babler, an appointee of former Democrat Gov. Jim Doyle, did just that following Monday’s hearing. 

The judge said there was no evidence that the health order was being enforced, anyway. 

Businesses, however, face a $500 fine per violation. 

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