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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Elected officials, from legislators to county sheriffs, are pushing back against Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers decision to extend the safer-at-home order to late May.

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Republican lawmakers are trying to block the extension, which goes until May 26, by filing a petition with the state’s Supreme Court.

Many who live in rural parts of the state feel the extension goes too far, especially since most of the COVID-19 cases are in highly-populated areas like Milwaukee and the surrounding suburbs.

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The rhythm of Dalles Restaurant Lounge in St. Croix Falls is on hold, according to owner Sonya Fry.

“Our guests have been supportive, encouraging us to reopen to get something going here,” Fry said.

The beat will go on again this weekend in the form of curbside pickup and delivery, including alcohol.

“So we’ve gotta get our staff in here and trained on these new safety measures, used to constant wearing of gloves and masks, the disposable menu,” Fry said.

Wisconsin’s “safer-at-home” order prevents them from serving dine-in customers. But with Polk County only having four of Wisconsin’s 4,620 positive COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, Sheriff Brent Waak feels new conversations must happen.

“With one brush you can’t paint the whole state,” Waak said. “One size doesn’t fit all in this, and I think as a community we need to be honest and open with our citizens on what our thoughts are.”

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Waak wrote a letter and posted it on Facebook, calling the extension of the order an “over-reach of state government.”

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“I believe that most Polk County businesses can safely operate with some protective measures in place such as social distancing and protective equipment for staff/patrons,” Waak said.

The post generated thousands of shares and comments, with many people praising Sheriff Waak.

“I’m not certainly trying to override a governor’s order here,” he said. “I’m trying to say I think we can find reasonable solutions to keep our county healthy, to work with our public health department on a local level and get some things going. And I think we can safely do that.”

Safety measures aside, some like Barbara Fossum can’t run the risk of opening their business during the safer-at-home order. She runs a barber shop.

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“[Customers have] called and wanted those backdoor haircuts and I’ve refused that. It’s mandated and I respect that,” Fossum said. “The threat of losing a license if I let someone in is pretty scary.”

She does however appreciate Sheriff Waak’s support of small businesses, and she was also disappointed that the order was extended.

“I’ve seen people be very respectful and the distancing and the wearing masks, and we live in an area that it’s not that populated. So it seems a little overboard,” Fossum said. “I think it’s strange that at some point it’s going to be lifted, and on that date does that mean we’re not going to be contagious?”

Sheriff Waak said his office will take action if a complaint comes in regarding an “egregious gathering” with hundreds of people.

“We’re gonna look at every case on reasonable, rational, healthy set of eyes,” Waak said.

Back at Dalles, Fry’s focus remains on serving customers outside of the restaurant. Beyond pickup and delivery, the idea of opening their patio to dine-in customers is something their contemplating in the weeks ahead.

“Our patio tables … are 7-feet away from each other. And if we have masked servers, disposable menus, no cross contamination, no co-mingling of guests, I don’t see why we can’t serve some people adequately and safely,” Fry said.

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Jeff Wagner