Judge denies Oregon restaurants’ lawsuit over COVID-19 restrictions

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PORTLAND, Ore. (NewsNation Now) — A federal judge has rejected an effort from Oregon restaurants to stop the most recent COVID-19-related restrictions imposed by Gov. Kate Brown.

The lawsuit claimed restaurants were being unfairly singled out in the two-week statewide freeze to slow the spread of coronavirus. The restrictions on groceries, pharmacies, retail stores and malls are limited to 75% capacity while restaurants can only engage in delivery and take-out only.

Meanwhile, in terms of social gatherings, Oregonians are limited to at most six people from a maximum of two households whether indoor or outdoor.

Two restaurant industry groups — Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) and the Restaurant Law Center — filed the lawsuit against Brown last week in response to her executive order.

The judge from the Oregon federal district court on Tuesday ruled the freeze as it applies to restaurants is within the state’s authority, NewsNation affiliate KOIN reported.

In a statement, ORLA said they were “disappointed … to not secure a temporary restraining order against the latest indoor and outdoor dining room freeze.”

“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,” ORLA President and CEO Jason Brandt told KOIN. “We’re disappointed that there still continues to be that inequity when it comes to people moving around in private settings, not wearing face coverings versus the environments we do provide where face coverings can come off in stationary positions.”

Brandt said the purpose of the suit was so “people can make the crucial money they need right now during the holiday season.”

“It’s incredibly important that we approach this challenge in the Oregon way,” Brandt added. “I’m just really impressed with the staff at the governor’s office in the way they have continued to engage us, even after filing the lawsuit.”

The association has had several meetings with the governor’s office, including three on Monday.

“It shows the spirit of collaboration that we all truly believe in Oregon,” Brandt said.

The freeze is effective until Dec. 2.

“I am hopeful,” Brandt said, “come December 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.”

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KOIN contributed to this report.

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