May 15, 2020

Wisconsin: drinkers return to bars after judges strike down stay-at-home order

[The Guardian, Getty Images]

Wisconsin’s supreme court struck down the state’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday, and some residents took immediate advantage – by packing the bars.

Videos and reports from some areas of Wisconsin showed some bars filled with revelers, most of them not wearing masks.

A tweet from Nick’s Bar in Platteville, in the state’s south-west, showed people packed tightly together, some dancing, others slapping the bar top as music played. Bars were able to reopen after Wisconsin’s supreme court ruled in a 4-3 decision that the stay-at-home order should have been issued in consultation with the legislature, rather than as a governor’s edict.


Nick’s bar in Platteville, Wisconsin today 14, 2020

“It’s been kinda boring sitting in my house. I love my fiancee, but there’s only so much we can handle from each other without having interaction with other people,” Hayden Krueger told local news channel WDJT-TV at the Buzzard’s Nest bar, in West Allis, near Milwaukee.

If any of the drinkers were wearing personal protective equipment, they were not captured in the WDJT-TV video.

“It was a rough two months and we miss our customers. A lot of them are like family to us, and it was good to see a lot of familiar faces. It’s been a long time,” said Buzzard’s Nest owner Larry Prior.

Bars in the state appeared to be following the less-than-sober advice of the Tavern League of Wisconsin, a non-profit trade association. “You can OPEN IMMEDIATELY!” the Tavern League told its followers on Facebook, shortly after the court ruling.


As more states begin to reopen, the CDC issued delayed guidelines for reopening safely. This, as Wisconsin’s bars and restaurants remain packed even as the governor issues a stark new warning. @gabegutierrez has more. 15, 2020

The verdict by the conservative-majority court overruled the lockdown order put in place by Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers. Evers’ ruling was due to expire at the end of May, but the supreme court’s decision leaves individual counties to determine their own fate. On Thursday, the governor urged people to continue to adhere to stay-at-home measures.

“Folks, deadly viruses don’t go away on their own and they don’t go away because the supreme court says so,” Evers said in a radio address.

“We cannot let this ruling undo all the work we have done and all the sacrifices Wisconsinites have made over these past few months.”

Milwaukee and Green Bay in particular have experienced high rates of infection.

Brown, Dane and Milwaukee counties, which account for some of the most populous areas of Wisconsin, swiftly imposed stay-at-home orders, but many of the state’s 72 counties chose not to do so, despite a warning from Evers on Thursday.

The Iron Hog Saloon in the town of Port Washington opened its doors, serving food and drinks as people disregarded social distancing advice.

“If people want to quarantine, quarantine. If you don’t want to quarantine, don’t quarantine. Go out, do what you normally do,” Iron Hog customer Gary Bertram told WISN ABC.

Public health experts have disagreed with Bertram’s guidance.

Iron Hog’s owner, Chad Arndt, said he had enhanced cleaning procedures before opening. He said he understood if customers did not want to return.

“If they don’t feel that it’s good to come out yet, more to them. But I hope they respect my feelings on [the fact] I would like to come out, and I would like to start getting the economy going again,” Arndt said.

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