Florence restaurant fined $17K for ‘willful’ COVID violation

Oregon Coast

Inspectors were threatened when they arrived, officials said

The Little Brown Hen in Florence (Google Street View, 2021)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Citing “a willful violation” of COVID protocols, the Oregon OSHA fined a Florence restaurant $17,800 for ignoring a public health order.

Inspectors went to The New Blue Hen after receiving multiple complaints, officials said. When inspectors arrived on January 4, several people blocked the entrance to the restaurant and threatened the OHSA officers. One, officials said, had a gun.

Authorities said the compliance officers were threatened when they asked to speak with the owner. They left but were followed to their cars as people shouted at them.

But the inspectors confirmed there was indoor dining and the next day spoke by phone with owner Stacey Brown, ” who said she understood the public health rules regarding the spread of the disease in Lane County.”

OSHA determined The New Blue Hen — doing business as Little Brown Hen — intentionally disregarded capacity limits for a county listed in the Extreme Risk category.

The penalty is twice the minimum penalty for a willful violation. Officials said they made that decision “to ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect where employers insist on disregarding public health measures.”

Brown has 30 days to appeal the citation.

Lane County remains in the Extreme Risk category, as of February 23.

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