Helbachs Coffee at risk of losing food and drink license for defying mask mandate

Helbachs Coffee in Middleton is at risk of losing its food and drink license if it continues to disregard Dane County’s mask mandate.
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 6:27 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Helbachs Coffee in Middleton is at risk of losing its food and drink license after it defied enforcing Dane County’s mask mandate at the business.

Public health Madison & Dane County confirms to NBC15 News that Helbachs has now received a total of three citations for not complying with Emergency Order #8.

This comes after the coffeehouse hung a sign on their business that read “Mask-Free Zone” and asked employees and customers to not wear face masks inside the business.

According to a “Notice of intent to revoke license” issued to Helbachs on July 31, Janel Heinrich, the Public Health Officer for Madison and Dane County, intends to seek revocation of their food and drink license for failing to comply with any provision of the Dane County Ordinances.

Heinrich argues in the notice that starting July 13, Helbachs engaged in repeated violations of Emergency Order #8. Those violations included hanging the “Mask Free Zone” sign, and directing that masks should be removed upon entry to the business.

The notice continues that employees and customers were witnessed inside the coffee shop without masks on; that the manager of the shop said that he had no intention of complying with the mask order or hanging a masks-required sign on the business; and that when a customer entered the shop, they were asked to remove their mask by an employee.

Helbachs has a right to a hearing before the Board of Health for Madison and Dane County. Within ten days of the hearing, the Board of Health for Madison and Dane County is required to issue a written decision regarding any action it takes with Helbachs’ food and drink license, according to the notice.

“The public health order was issued in an attempt to suppress the spread of Covid and that’s why it was issued,” Marci Paulsen, Madison Assistant City Attorney said. We believe it will withstand any constitutional challenges as it is supported by the Wisconsin statute that authorizes the public health office to issue orders in response to an infectious disease.”

That hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 25 at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, a “Freedom Fund” on GoFundMe has been launched to raise money for Helbachs. The organizer of that fundraiser, Casey Helbach, said that the money raised will be used to challenge the health department over the license and citations in court, as well as to set up a legal defense fund for other businesses owners “to fight for freedom and the unlawful orders” from the health department.

“Helbachs believes that this order is unlawful and should be opposed in court. We are not against the public’s safety but rather against Madison & Dane County Public Health infringing on our constitutional rights,” according to the GoFundMe.

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