Fredericksburg restaurant under fire for breaking COVID-19 rules

There is a new twist in the fight between Virginia officials and a restaurant that refuses to obey COVID-19 rules.

FOX 5 first told you about Gourmeltz in Fredericksburg last month after it had its food license suspended for repeatedly violating the governor’s orders.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Restaurant owner says he’s staying open after license suspended for COVID-19 violations

A judge this morning heard an injunction case brought by the Virginia attorney general against Gourmeltz.

The attorney for Gourmeltz, Bob Barr, says if his client follows COVID-19 guidelines then he would be put out of business.

"The government is shutting down small businesses like restaurants. The restaurant here is a small restaurant, as you can see inside, and if in fact, Matt had to follow all the COVID restrictions that the Governor would like him to follow, he couldn’t operate, he couldn’t make sufficient money to meet his overhead expenses and pay his employees," said Barr.

He adds there are no facts that prove the restaurant is a threat to the community.

"There have been no COVID-19 cases resulting from Matt’s remaining open the way he has," said Barr.

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The health department has received 50 complaints about Gourmeltz. That is why authorities are asking the restaurant to follow Executive Order 72, which states restaurants in Virginia need to enforce mask wearing, social distancing, and not allow customers to sit at the bar.

The owner, Matt Strickland, prefers to leave it up to the customer. They can wear a mask if they want, but they don’t have to.

He also says Gourmeltz is only supposed to allow 19 people to be seated inside, but clearly, that is not happening.

Matt’s attorney says there is no proof that Gourmeltz remaining open poses any specific danger to anybody.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says it is crucial for everyone to follow COVID-19 guidelines in order for Virginia to return to normal as quickly as possible.

This situation is now in the hands of a judge. We will know within one week whether or not Gourmeltz needs to shut down.

However, the owner here says he will keep fighting this until he gets his way.

Stay with Fox 5 for updates.