A Virginia restaurant owner scored a victory in court after defying COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam,
What are the details?
On Friday, the judge denied the state’s request for an injunction to immediately close Gourmeltz restaurant in Fredericksburg, the station said, adding that the judge said the state failed to show the injunction was in the public interest or that the public would be harmed without it.
Restaurant owner Matt Strickland started things off in a food truck five years ago and has worked hard to grow his business, WUSA said. Now he refuses to comply with Northam’s mandates on mask-wearing and social distancing, saying they’re unconstitutional, the station reported.
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He’s also refused to stop serving food and alcohol despite public health officials suspending his licenses, the station added.
“I’m not afraid of the state, I’m not afraid of the federal government,” Strickland told WUSA. “I spent most of my adult life fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have no problem coming home and fighting here in Virginia.”
Virginia health departments ban customers from sitting at the bar and require all employees to wear masks, the station said.
“If you do what the government says just because they say so, they’ll keep taking and taking, and the things you give them you’ll never get back,” Strickland added to WUSA.
But some of Strickland’s customers don’t agree with his stance.
“That’s kind of stupid,” Dedrick Napper told the station as he was on his way in to buy lunch. “The mask is not a big deal. You should wear a mask.”
Charlotte Gomer, a spokeswoman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, added to WUSA that “it’s crucial that everyone play their part and adhere to the COVID guidelines in order for Virginia to return to normal as quickly and safely as possible.”
‘They will never scare me into backing down’
Strickland is unmoved, telling WUSA that “the state, the government, the president … they will never scare me into backing down. I will never kneel down and kiss that ring. I will fight as long as I’ve got to fight. I will fight as hard as I have to fight.”
Strickland’s lawyer — former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia — told WUSA his client “has been serving customers without a single incident of COVID-19, including any potential reports through contact tracing, nearby outbreaks, or any customers or employees testing positive, since the outbreak began.”
A fundraiser to support the restaurant has raised more than $9,000, the station said.
Virginia restaurant owner defies COVID health rules