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A Sawyer County judge has, for now, blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ latest order to curb the spread of coronavirus by limiting public gatherings and the number of customers bars and restaurants may serve at one time.

The order from Judge John Yackel knocks down the order at a time of record hospitalizations, new cases and deaths — and after bars and restaurants have lost a massive amount of revenue as customers stay away while the pandemic rages on in the state.

It leaves much of the state without any restrictions on public interaction at a time when the virus is surging, but some counties have chosen to enforce their own orders, like in Madison and Milwaukee.

The governor’s order was lifted the same day a field hospital opened to care for COVID-19 patients as hospitals in some areas of the state become overwhelmed. On Wednesday, more than 1,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 for the first time since the pandemic hit the state in February.

The decision blocks enforcement and requires attorneys for Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm to appear in court on Monday to defend the order and argue why it should not be put on hold while the lawsuit brought by a Sawyer County restaurant and the Tavern League of Wisconsin is litigated.

“This is a dangerous decision that leaves our state without a statewide effort to contain this virus,” Evers’ spokeswoman Britt Cudaback said. “We will be challenging the decision, and in the meantime, we need Wisconsinites to stay home and help us prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Democratic state Sen. LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee said if the decision becomes permanent, the state will be exacerbating the already out-of-control spread in the state.

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