Restaurant groups file lawsuit against Brown over freeze


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two restaurant industry groups have announced a lawsuit filed against Oregon Gov. Kate Brown in a response to the governor’s executive order forcing restaurants to move to takeout for two weeks, among other measures, as the state combats a spike of COVID-19 cases.

In a statement announcing the joint complaint filed in federal court, representatives from the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) and the Restaurant Law Center said the action was taken to “prevent economic devastation.”

Jason Brandt, the president and CEO of ORLA, argued the restaurant restrictions that went into effect on Wednesday “lack equity and due process.”

“The industry is following applicable federal, state and local operating guidelines, and, where necessary, adapted their business models and adopted countless new measures to ensure that diners and workers remain safe,” Angelo Amador, executive director of the Restaurant Law Center, said in a statement. “A blanket ban on indoor and outdoor dining is wrong and we believe the latest executive order in Oregon is also illegal.”

The lawsuit was filed on the second straight day Oregon health officials announced a record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases.

Read the full complaint below:

Brandt said the governor’s executive order “creates winners and losers, not just in our industry but also how we are approaching virus mitigation in private settings.” He told KOIN 6 News their complaint focuses on “inequities” within Brown’s mandated freeze. Brandt proposes allowing no more than two households and up to six people within Oregon restaurants, while maintaining physical distancing.

“We understand our governor needs to have the authority to deal with a growing public health emergency and our hearts go out to those losing loved ones,” said Brandt. “We are working incredibly hard in our industry to make sure our environments are safe for employees and guests and we take it very seriously the responsibility to make sure environments stay safe by reviewing the OHA reports.”

But ORLA and the Restaurant Law Center wants to keep the thousands of restaurant industry employees in their jobs, especially with the holidays right around the corner. Those who support their complaint against Brown, including Brandt, want lawmakers to give restaurant workers opportunities to avoid unemployment. The latest lockdown allows no wiggle room for creativity in bringing in customers with outdoor dining and physical distancing having been taken off the table.

“Thats the best way we know how to support employees in this industry is by making sure we have equity in our process for adopting restrictions, which are needed to continue to mitigate virus spread,” said Brandt. “If we do it with a little more process, I do think we can get some of their workers their jobs back hopefully before Thanksgiving.”

While a federal judge sifts through their complaint, Brandt encouraged people to continue supporting their local restaurants.

“Make sure you know that they know how much you care about them — maybe order a little extra take out food in the process,” he said.

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