MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin judge today reimposed an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor places to 25% of capacity.
The capacity limits order was issued Oct. 6 by Andrea Palm, secretary of the state Department of Health Services, in the face of surging coronavirus cases in Wisconsin. A judge on Oct. 14 blocked the order after it was challenged by the Tavern League of Wisconsin, which argued it amounted to a “defacto closure” order for the bars and restaurants it represents.
But Barron County Judge James Babler today put the capacity limits back into effect. The judge declined a request from the Tavern League to keep the capacity limit order on hold while the lawsuit is pending. The judge also declined to stay his ruling while the Tavern League and others fighting it appeal his decision.
The Tavern League argued that Evers needed to work through the Legislature to approve an emergency rule setting capacity limits, rather than issuing the order. It pointed to a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling from May undoing Evers’ “safer at home” order.
The capacity limits order is set to expire on Nov. 6, but could be renewed.
Wisconsin last week set new daily records for positive coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations. To date, the state has more than 166,000 positive cases and 1,574 deaths.