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Judge in Wisconsin reinstates governor's COVID-19 capacity restrictions

It comes amid surging cases and hospitalizations in the state.
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A judge in Wisconsin has denied an attempt to block the latest capacity restrictions introduced by Gov. Tony Evers in response to the state's worsening COVID-19 crisis.

Last week, a temporary injunction was approved by a court that prevented enforcement of Evers' latest executive order – which limits many indoor public spaces to 25% of their occupancy limits – after a legal challenge was brought by The Tavern League of Wisconsin, a powerful beverage retailer lobbying group.

But on Monday, Barron County Judge James Babler refused to keep the injunction on the order in place, saying that it can be re-applied while the Tavern League's wider lawsuit is pending. He also chose not to stay his ruling while the Tavern League – or others – appealed against his decision.

But Barron County Judge James Babler on Monday 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.\

In a statement, Gov. Evers said: "This critically important ruling will help us prevent the spread of this virus by restoring limits on public gatherings.

"This crisis is urgent. Wisconsinites, stay home. Limit travel and going to gatherings, and please wear a face covering whenever you have to go out."

The order is still the subject of further legal challenges, with the Tavern League suing saying that the order amounted to a "de facto closure" order for many of the bars and restaurants in the state.

The order expires on Nov. 6, but could be extended by Evers. The governor's previous "Safer at Home" order was overturned by a court in May after a challenge brought by, among others, the GOP-led Wisconsin Legislature, which resulted in many of the state's businesses operating without restrictions.

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The latest figures from the state on Friday showed a record 3,861 positive COVID-19 cases and 21 new deaths.

Per the Associated Press, the Tavern League had argued that while Evers' intentions are good, it doesn't make his order legal, but the Evers' Administration argued that the order was necessary for the long-term good of the state.

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