Crowds pack Wisconsin bars hours after court stops coronavirus stay-at-home order

Shortly after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday, the Tavern League of Wisconsin posted to its members on Facebook, “We will get you a more detailed summary of the decision, however, according to the ruling you can OPEN IMMEDIATELY!” 

Bars obliged, and the customers came. But coronavirus-era social distancing measures went out the window even as the nationwide death count continues to mount. 

Nick’s Bar in Platteville, Wis., tweeted a video and a photo on Wednesday captioned “45 minutes after the bars open in Wisconsin,” showing a packed room of patrons, with revelers laughing and dancing along to “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by the Hollies.    

The Iron Hog Saloon greeted customers Wednesday afternoon in the town of Port Washington, Wis., where patrons reportedly mingled with little social distancing and no masks.    

“My employees haven’t been paid now in two months. I had to look out for them and their families, and I had to look out for my business,” the saloon’s owner told WISN.

President Trump also celebrated the lifting of statewide restrictions, tweeting Thursday morning that “The Great State of Wisconsin” is “bustling.”  

“The people want to get on with their lives. The place is bustling!” Trump exclaimed.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, told MSNBC that the court had “thrown our state into chaos” and undermined the rules meant to limit the virus’s spread.

“People are smart in Wisconsin. They’re not idiots. They’re going to do whatever they can to make sure that they’re safe,” he said, nevertheless warning that more deaths would result. “But when you have no requirements anymore, that’s a problem.”

Dr. Dara Kass, a Yahoo News Medical Contributor and associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University, says that as cities and states gradually lift social distancing restrictions, lower-contact and lower-risk businesses should be first in line to open. 

“We just saw a study out of Washington which showed us that singing at a choral practice, screaming in a loud voice in close proximity to other people, spread the virus at almost a 100 percent capacity,” Kass explained. “Literally almost everyone at this choral practice got the coronavirus from one person. Do you know what else is a space where you scream out loud in close proximity to other people? A bar.  

“I hope Wisconsin does not see a surge of cases in the community of people that went out to the bar. Or in Colorado, where people went to a restaurant for Mother’s Day,” Kass added. “There are so many clusters of people just saying, ‘I’m too tired to do this anymore, and I’m done.’ 

“But the truth is public health doesn’t stop because we’re tired. And this virus doesn’t care if we aren’t interested in staying home anymore.”

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Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please refer to the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides. 

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