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A federal lawsuit says a two-week 'freeze' issued by the governor is unlawful, inequitable.

COURTESY: KAMA'AINA - Forest Grove's Kama'aina restaurant was one of many restaurants hit by the coronavirus. The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association has filed suit against Gov. Kate Brown in federal court, claiming her recent two week 'freeze' banning indoor and outdoor dining to slow the spread of COVID-19 is unfair and unlawful.

The suit, filed Friday morning, seeks a court injunction that would block the order until a judge can issue a final ruling. According to the head of the industry lobbying group, it hopes the lawsuit will spark a conversation with Brown.

"The restaurant industry prefers engaging in partnerships with our leaders in government," said Jason Brandt, association president and CEO, according to a news release. "The latest restaurant restrictions ... lack equity and due process. We hope to engage in communication with Gov. Kate Brown and her professional staff as soon as possible to work towards a resolution that has not been available to us at this stage."

The suit comes at a time when the spread of COVID-19 has been skyrocketing, apparently the seasonal surge that experts have predicted for months, but which seemed to take Brown's office by surprise.

Click here to download the suit.

Click here to read an earlier article about restaurants' reaction.

According to the suit, "Plaintiffs and the businesses they represent have spent substantial sums to construct, build and create indoor and outdoor safety dividers, outdoor seating for customers, outdoor weather protection, and other safety precautions and protections. Such costs were incurred in reliance on previous executive orders of the governor, and guidance of the state of Oregon, which executive orders and guidance were rationally based on medical and scientific facts. (Brown's executive order) lacks such rational basis in scientific and medical facts differentiating the categories of dining and drinking that are prohibited, from those that are allowed to continue."

The suit claims restaurants are treated more harshly than other types of entities, noting the Brown order exempts "'workplaces, government buildings, health care facilities, child care facilities, emergency response activities, school-based food programs, encampments of people experiencing homelessness, and shelter and meal programs serving vulnerable populations' which may continue to operate indoor and outdoor food and drink service."PMG FILE PHOTO - More restaurants are expected to close because of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's 'freeze' to slow the spread of COVID-19.

It adds that other entities operate under "only limited restrictions, or in some cases no restrictions whatsoever. For example, under (the order) grocery stores, retail stores, farmers markets, and indoor and outdoor malls may continue to operate at 75% capacity with no restrictions whatsoever on how long members of the public are permitted to remain on site."

Joining the lobbying group in filing the suit is the Restaurant Law Center of Washington, D.C.


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