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Governor responds to judge blocking emergency order

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Wausau, Wis. (WAOW) -- Wednesday morning, a judge blocked Governor Tony Evers' order limiting the size of indoor gatherings. This comes after a lawsuit which alleges that the order could be devastating for Wisconsin businesses.

The governor says the block on his order couldn't have come at a worse time for Wisconsin.

"Just as we broke records yesterday on the number of deaths and the number of hospitalizations we've had in the state of Wisconsin," he said.

The emergency order limited the amount of people at a public indoor gathering to 25% of the room or building's capacity. The lawsuit from the Tavern League alleges this order unfairly targets the bar and restaurant industry.

"The order is in place because we are in crisis in the state, and mass gatherings are not a helpful way for us to stop the spread of the virus," said Julie Williams Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Department of Health Services.

The lawsuit also claimes the executive order is "illegal" and was not made in compliance with the supreme court.

According to Saemyi Park, an associate law professor at UWSP, emergency orders are meant to be made in conjunction with the legislature.

Park said that while an emergency order does expand the governor's powers somewhat, he cannot do things like limit freedom of the press or confiscate citizens' firearms, even in an emergency.

"Additionally, constitutional limits on state authority and any guaranteed rights remain in full effect during an emergency," Park said.

The DHS and Governor Evers said they plan to fight the ruling in court soon.

"At the end of the day we have to value life and we have to value health and we believe that limiting public gatherings to a much smaller number will do that," Evers said.

In the meantime, the governor said he has federal CARES money set aside to support small business owners.

Natalie Sopyla

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