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Wisconsin Bars Fill After Court Lifts COVID-19 Lockdown

Club Ritz reopens to patrons following the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision to strike down Governor Tony Evers' safer-at-home order against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kaukana, Wisconsin, May 13, 2020.

A Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling Wednesday rejecting the midwestern state's stay-at-home order threw communities into chaos as some bars opened immediately and were packed with customers, while some local leaders moved to keep COVID-19-related restrictions in place.

The 4-3 ruling essentially reopens the state, lifting caps on the size of gatherings, allowing people to travel as they please and permitting shuttered businesses, including bars and restaurants, to reopen.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin swiftly posted the news on its website, telling members, "You can OPEN IMMEDIATELY!"

The decision let stand language that had closed schools, and local governments can still impose their own health restrictions.

In Dane County, home to the capital of Madison, officials quickly imposed a mandate incorporating most of the statewide order.

But elsewhere, bars did not wait. The Iron Hog Saloon in the city of Port Washington opened its doors at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Owner Chad Arndt said his nine employees had not been paid in months.

Video taken inside the bar showed customers did not wear masks or practice social distancing. Arndt said he has enhanced cleaning protocols but understands if customers do not want to come back.