The statewide face mask mandate implemented with an executive order by Democrat Gov. Tony Evers has been struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
In a 4-3 vote, the conservative-majority court found in a 78-page decision that Evers does not have the authority to extend Wisconsin's public health emergency beyond 60 days without getting legislative approval.
It comes after Wisconsin's Republican-controlled Legislature filed a lawsuit against the mandate in October. GOP leaders have also gone to the courts to overturn Evers' COVID-19 "Safer at Home" order last May, as well as bar and restaurant shutdown in October.
Per WISN, Evers had argued he was able to issue multiple public health emergencies due to the changing nature of COVID-19, but four of the Supreme Court justices disagreed.
Despite this, a number of cities and municipalities are expected to keep their own mask mandates in place, such as those in Milwaukee, and Dane and Rock counties. Individual businesses and organizations can also require masks be worn as a condition of service.
Wisconsin has started seeing a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, though not at the same rate as Minnesota has experienced.
Its peak in November was worse than Minnesota's in terms of cases, but over the course of the pandemic has had a lower death toll at 6,612 compared to Minnesota's 6,848 despite having a slightly larger population, albeit it doesn't have a metro as densely populated as Minneapolis-St. Paul.