PORTLAND, Oregon. November 25, 2020 (AP) — The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is seeking a court order from a federal judge to block Gov. Kate Brown’s “two-week freeze” that bans dining in restaurants in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases. The association, which represents 10,000 food service and 2,000 lodging businesses across the state, argues the new restrictions will cause devastating effects for its members and their employees, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
The association and the public policy group Restaurant Law Center filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Portland on Friday, two days after the governor’s new executive order took effect. The order expected to last at least through Dec. 2 limits social get-togethers to no more than six people from no more than two households and limits restaurants to take-out and delivery only.
When issuing the freeze, Brown acknowledged it will be difficult for everyone. “We are trying to stop this ferocious virus from spreading even more quickly and far and wide, and to save lives,” she said. As of Thursday, there have been 60,873 coronavirus cases and 808 deaths from the virus, according to state reporting. The suit says the governor’s order violates due process and equal protection, and that Brown has exceeded her power in issuing it.
The association urges a judge to grant a temporary injunction that would bar the order’s enforcement, in whole or in part, while the case is pending. Leaders of the association and the law center said they hope Brown and her staff will work with them to develop “a more reasonable and pragmatic approach,” according to a news release.
“A blanket ban on indoor and outdoor dining is wrong and we believe the latest executive order in Oregon is also illegal,” Angelo Amador, executive director of the Restaurant Law Center, said in a news release.
The governor’s office, through spokeswoman Liz Merah, declined to comment on the suit, but pointed to Brown’s announcement earlier this week in which she announced $55 million would be offered in financial assistance to support Oregon businesses who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.