Dozens rally at court over Stuffy’s $126K COVID fine


Stuffy's faces $126,000 fine

LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — Dozens of people rallied outside the Cowlitz County Courthouse Thursday to show support for a Longview restaurant slapped with a hefty fine from the state of Washington for defying Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders by serving customers inside during the pandemic.

Stuffy’s II Restaurant was scheduled to have their hearing in Cowlitz County Court on Thursday over a $126,000 fine imposed by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries. But it didn’t last long. The judge pushed the case back to January 21 so that Stuffy’s has time to get an attorney.

The fine comes four weeks after Gov. Jay Inslee ordered restaurants to cease indoor dining. Two days ago, Inslee issued a region-by-region re-opening plan which takes effect January 11.

Dozens of people rallied outside the Cowlitz County Courthouse to support Stuffy’s restaurant, slapped with a $126,000 fine over COVID protocol violations, January 7, 2021 (KOIN)

The restaurant’s 78-year-old owner said he’s not trying to provoke anyone but is just trying to survive. Spiffy’s Restaurant and Bakery in Chehalis had a hearing Tuesday as it also fights a restraining order issued by the state after it continued indoor dining.

Beth Lee, who works at Stuffy’s, told KOIN 6 News she hopes the eatery “will be able to stay open, I’ll still be able to have a job, stay employed. That’s ultimately the goal. They are working their hardest to stay open so we all have jobs.”

Other restaurant workers were among those showing their support, like Rob Grant who works at Spiffy’s Restaurant.

“I am afraid if they don’t stay open, we don’t stay open,” Grant said. “We are not going to make it.”

The Department of Labor & Industries said between 20 and 25 businesses in Washington have so far been fined for defying the governor’s COVID orders, but only a few have faced restraining orders from the attorney general’s office.

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