Judge denies Oregon restaurants' lawsuit over COVID freeze
A federal judge rejected an effort from Oregon restaurants to stop the latest COVID-related restrictions imposed on them by Gov. Kate Brown.
The lawsuit from the Oregon Restaurants and Lodging Association said they were being unfairly singled out. The judge from the Oregon federal district court did not agree and said the freeze is within the state's authority.
Two restaurant industry groups filed the lawsuit against Brown on Nov. 20 in response to her executive order forcing restaurants to move to takeout food only for two weeks statewide and four weeks in Multnomah County, among other measures, to slow the spread of COVID-19 cases.
When they filed the suit, representatives from ORLA and the Restaurant Law Center in Washington, D.C., said the action was taken to "prevent economic devastation."
After the ruling, ORLA President and CEO Jason Brandt said that even though the lawsuit was rejected, their real focus is doing what they can to help people keep their jobs.
"We are not blind to the fact that face coverings have to come off in our industry when you are eating or drinking in a restaurant," he said. "Our challenge is the inequity [of] having people gather in private spaces up to six people, two households, where people are moving around with their face coverings off."
Even though they are disappointed, Brandt they want to keep working with the governor's office and, in fact, had good things to say about Brown and her staff.
"It's incredibly important we approach this challenge in the Oregon way and I am impressed with the staff, with the governor's office, in the way they have continued to engage us, even filing the lawsuit."
Brandt said they had three meetings Monday, Mov. 23, with the governor's office.
"It shows the spirit of collaboration that we all truly believe in Oregon," Brandt said.
And he also thinks there will be some "new approaches" in the near future.
"I don't want to get ahead of the Oregon Health Authority or the governor's office, so we look to support whatever those decisions are and try to find a path forward so many of our small businesses can survive as possible," Brandt said.
The current freeze is in effect statewide until Dec. 3 and until Dec. 18 in Multnomah County.
"I am hopeful," Brandt said, that "come Dec. 3, at least some of our restaurants in some counties across the state will have the opportunity to have the freeze lifted and have the opportunity to make the revenue they desperately need for their business."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.
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