Restaurants That Refused To Shut Down After Gov. Tom Wolf’s Indoor Dining Ban Lose Lawsuit

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Elizabeth Weibel Contributor
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Two restaurants from Hershey, Pennsylvania, and a restaurant association have lost their lawsuit against Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s indoor dining ban after a judge refused to block the order from the governor.

The lawsuit was filed by the Hershey Independent Restaurant Association (HIRA), and two Hershey restaurants, Fenicci’s of Hershey and the River House Bar and Grill, according to Pennlive.

The judge, Christopher C. Conner of the U.S. Middle District explained that he understood the stressful situation restaurant owners are in, but that his court would be unable to intervene since the HIRA, Fenicci’s of Hershey and the River House Bar and Grill lacked proof of a civil rights violation.

When asked about the lawsuit that had been rejected on Dec. 23, Phil Guarno, the owner of Fenicci’s of Hershey, the oldest freestanding restaurant in the city, explained to the Daily Caller, “We were seeking an injunction against the governor for closing indoor dining.”  Guarno explained that they were seeking to prohibit the enforcement of Gov. Wolf’s temporary ban on indoor dining with their injunction.

“We defied his orders, we said enough was enough,” Guarno added. “When he asked us to close on Dec. 12, we didn’t.”

Under 42 U.S. Code 1983, people are allowed to sue the government or to seek an injunction if they feel their constitutional rights have been infringed upon. Under this law, people have to prove that someone has intentionally deprived them of their constitutional rights.

“Shortly there after, around Dec. 17 he was sending out the state liquor authorities, as well as the board of health to issue citations to try to shut us down,” Guarno explained. (RELATED: ‘Open Or Go Bankrupt’: Gym Re-Opens In Defiance Of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s Partial Lockdown)

Guarno explained that he has made the decision to put his liquor license into safe keeping. “This means that my liquor license is away in a safe storage area with the state,” he added. He explained that while he is unable to serve alcohol right now, it means that he is not receiving any liquor infractions.

“I wasn’t going to close and let someone go without Christmas presents under their tree, or a chicken on the table,” Guarno said. “I know a lot of people who have lost everything, and they’ll never get it back.”

Guarno explained that since there have been so many restaurants defying his orders, Wolf issued an injunction against 40 restaurants, asking a judge to close them down and to seek punitive damages against the establishments.

Going forward, Guarno says that he will have to weigh his options on whether to remain open or close. “My goal was to make sure that my employees had enough money to get through the holidays.”

“The community has been incredibly supportive,” he said. “We’ve been sold out every night since Dec. 10, I’ve had people drive as far as a thousand miles to come see us.”