Trump applauds Wisconsin ruling striking down lockdown order


The division has split largely along political lines, with Republicans generally pushing to reopen more quickly to help the crippled economy and states led by Democratic governors proceeding more cautiously, citing concerns over public health.

Hundreds gathered on Thursday at the Michigan capital, Lansing, to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent decision to extend her stay-at-home order until at least May 28. Some carried signs in support of Trump.

Protesters gathered in Lansing to oppose Michigan’s coronavirus stay-at-home order on Thursday.

Protesters gathered in Lansing to oppose Michigan’s coronavirus stay-at-home order on Thursday.Credit:AP

Whitmer also gave the go-ahead to restart manufacturing from this week in her state, enabling US automakers to plan reopenings across the country on Monday because so many parts suppliers are based in and around Detroit.

Witnesses said Thursday’s protest was peaceful. A handful had guns. Police quickly broke up a minor scuffle. At a protest in Lansing on April 30, hundreds of protesters, some armed, entered the Capitol and demanded to be let onto the House floor.

US Representative Debbie Dingell, also a Michigan Democrat, said she was directly targeted for defending Whitmer, a frequent target of Trump’s ire, calling it “scary.”

“Somebody’s going to get hurt if this hatred keeps getting stoked,” she told MSNBC in an interview. “What we’ve got to do is come together.”

Faster or slower

Nearly all 50 US states have taken some steps to relax restrictions. On Friday, New York state will allow construction and manufacturing operations to restart work in more sparsely populated areas outside of New York City, the epicentre of the pandemic in the country. The metropolis has accounted for more than a quarter of all US deaths.

Trump, who has staked his chances for re-election in November on a strong economy, wants states to reopen despite warnings from health experts, including some on his own White House task force, that a premature lifting of lockdowns could spark new virus outbreaks.

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The crisis has battered the US job market, with government data released on Thursday showing that initial claims for state unemployment benefits totalled a seasonally adjusted 2.981 million for the week ended May 9. The numbers lifted to 36.5 million the number of people who have filed claims since mid-March, equal to more than one in five workers.

On Thursday, Trump was due to visit a medical equipment distributor in Pennsylvania, his second major trip outside the White House since March, both to battleground states considered key to winning the 2020 election.

In Wisconsin, another battleground state, the court ruling invalidated the “Safer at Home” order that had been extended through to May 26 by health secretary-designee Andrea Palm on grounds that it exceeded her “statutory authority.”

Images on social media showed residents of small towns celebrating in their local bars immediately afterward.

Owner Michael Mattson toasts the opening of the Friends and Neighbours bar following the Wisconsin Supreme Court's ruling.

Owner Michael Mattson toasts the opening of the Friends and Neighbours bar following the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling.Credit:AP

But Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city, said his stay-at-home order would remain intact.

That meant bars and restaurants like Lakefront Brewery, employing about 170 full and part time employees, will stay closed for now.

Lakefront president Russ Klisch said he was not ready to open his doors to customers anyway, as he was still waiting on orders of plexiglass to put between tables and at the bar and needed to train staff to keep themselves and customers safe.

“I don’t feel we are there yet,” Klisch said. “We are going to have to learn to deal with this one way or another. But we are going to have to deal with it in a way that is safe.”

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Reuters

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