Wisconsin judge blocks governor’s order limiting capacity

A Wisconsin judge has temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor places

The Democratic governor’s order, issued last week, limited the number of customers in any indoor establishment to 25% of capacity.

The Tavern League argued that the order amounted to “defacto closure.”

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THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin has sued Gov. Tony Evers’ administration over new limits on bar and restaurant capacity.

The lawsuit by the powerful lobbying group, filed in Sawyer County on Tuesday, seeks to immediately block enforcement of Evers’ latest order capping customers to 25% of the establishment’s capacity limit.

The Tavern League said the order amounts to a “defacto closure.”

“My members are good people — they’re hard-working. They care about their community. They care about their employees,” Tavern League lobbyist Scott Stenger said. “They are seeing generations of their business wiped away.”

Plaintiffs include the statewide Tavern League, the Sawyer County Tavern League and the Flambeau Forest Inn in the village of Winter, the Journal Sentinel reported.

The lawsuit argues that the Flambeau Forest Inn would be forced to limit its capacity to 10 people under the state order, which would include five customers and five employees needed to operate the restaurant.

“This would be approximately 5% of Flambeau’s normal seating capacity. Flambeau could not operate profitably under these conditions and would be forced to discontinue its business operations,” the lawsuit said.

In response, the Democratic governor’s spokeswoman said the order “is consistent with the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year, and we continue to ask everyone to do their part to prevent the spread of this virus by staying home, limiting travel and gatherings, and wearing face coverings whenever in public.”

The state Department of Health Services on Tuesday reported 3,279 confirmed new coronavirus cases, breaking a record of 3,132 set just five days earlier. There were 34 deaths reported, also a new high, bringing the total number of people who have died to 1,508. To date, more than 155,000 people in Wisconsin have tested positive.