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Shop loses lease after refusing to follow mask mandate

MIDDLETON, Wis. (AP) — A Middleton coffee shop has lost its lease after violating Dane County’s mask mandate.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Helbachs Coffee Roasters and Kitchen will close on Aug. 31. The shop said in an Instagram post Thursday its landlord has refused to renew its lease and the decision to close comes on the heels of “enforcement action, negative public statements and continued vindictive and hostile behavior” by county health officials toward the shop.

Dane County’s mask ordinance took effect July 13, weeks before Gov. Tony Evers enacted a statewide mandate on Aug. 1. Helbachs caught the attention of Dane County officials after a sign posted July 13 on its front door declared the shop a “mask-free zone.”

Public Health Madison and Dane County issued the shop three citations for not following the county ordinance. Helbachs responded with a lawsuit accusing the county of violating its free speech rights, arguing the sign was intended only as a statement of disagreement with the government.

The shop was facing revocation of its food and drink license because of its refusal to abide by the order.

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