Restaurant association files lawsuit against Oregon Gov. Brown over ‘freeze’ order

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Announces 14 Day Statewide “freeze”
Gillian Flaccus
(March 15, 2020) A Red Robin restaurant in Tigard, Ore., has closed some tables in order to maintain social distancing between diners per CDC guidelines. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, announced a statewide two-week "freeze" which will limit restaurants and bars to take-out only and close gyms, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities during that period. If people do not abide by the governor's latest mandates, which restricts social gatherings to six people, they could face a citation, fine or arrest.

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) — The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Restaurant Law Center have filed a lawsuit against Oregon Gov. Kate Brown over her “freeze” order, which limits restaurants and bars to take-out only across the state.

The freeze went into effect Wednesday. It prohibits restaurants and bars from serving dine-in customers, while also closing or limiting other businesses and activities in every county in Oregon.

The freeze will last statewide through Dec. 2, and will be in place longer for some counties, including Multnomah County.

The lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Portland states the governor’s executive order “expressly discriminates against those in the restaurant and hospitality businesses,” by allowing other businesses to operate with “only limited restrictions, or in some cases no restrictions whatsoever.”

The lawsuit cites grocery stores, retail stores, farmers markets and indoor and outdoor malls allowed to operate at 75% capacity “with no restrictions whatsoever on how long members of the public are permitted to remain on site.”

The freeze order does not apply to personal service businesses including barber shops, hair salons and non-medical massage therapy. Youth programs, childcare, and many sports, including Division 1 and professional athletics that were already exempt, are also allowed to continue under previous Oregon Health Authority guidance.

The lawsuit states that Oregon restaurants “have spent substantial sums” to build and create safe dining areas inside and outside based on previous executive orders from the governor and guidance from state health officials that were “rationally based on medical and scientific facts.”

The lawsuit alleges the new freeze order “lacks such rational basis in scientific and medical facts.”

“This action was taken to save many restaurants around the state, and to protect the livelihoods of thousands of food service workers who rely on restaurants and their customers. Both restaurants and their employees continue to suffer from the devastating effects of ongoing regulatory orders in Oregon during this pandemic,” according to a statement from the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Restaurant Law Center.

FOX 12 reached out to the governor’s office for a statement about the lawsuit, and will update this story if one is provided.

The lawsuit is seeking an injunction on the freeze order, as well as “statutory compensation.”

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