A Wisconsin judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony Evers' administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor places, a move that comes as the state breaks records for new coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin sued on Tuesday. Sawyer County Circuit Judge John Yackel on Wednesday blocked the order and set a court date for Monday.
The Democratic governor's order, issued last week, limited the number of customers in any indoor establishment to 25% of capacity. Evers said he was making the move to curb the spread of the virus as it spikes in Wisconsin. The state was opening a field hospital near Milwaukee on Wednesday to handle an overflow of patients from hospitals that hit a record-high number of COVID-19 patients on Tuesday.
The Tavern League, the lobbying group for the state's powerful bars and taverns, argued in its lawsuit that the order amounted to "defacto closure."
A spokeswoman for Evers did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the ruling.
Earlier this year, the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court ended Evers' "safer at home" order. Republican lawmakers are currently suing to end the governor's statewide mask mandate.
The Tavern League, the Sawyer County Tavern League and the Flambeau Forest Inn in the village of Winter brought the lawsuit. It 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.
"Flambeau could not operate profitably under these conditions and would be forced to discontinue its business operations," the lawsuit said.
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.