Judge says defiant Fredericksburg restaurant that broke COVID-19 rules can stay open, according to attorney


A judge has determined that a Fredericksburg restaurant can stay open, despite repeatedly refusing to follow Virginia’s COVID-19 guidelines, according to an attorney.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Fredericksburg restaurant under fire for breaking COVID-19 rules

According to a statement from an attorney representing Gourmeltz, the Virginia judge denied the Commonwealth’s request for a temporary injunction that the owner says would have put him out of business.

Owner Matthew Strickland has persisted in refusing to adhere to state guidelines – going so far as to stay open despite having his license suspended.

Last week, an attorney representing Gourmeltz and Strickland, told FOX 5 that if they’d followed such guidelines, it would have been the end of the restaurant.

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

The health department received 50 complaints about Gourmeltz prior to last week’s hearing, which prompted the authorities to ask 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.

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

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

Barr stressed that no COVID-19 cases could be traced to dining at Gourmeltz.

Barr's office provided this statement:

"On behalf of Gourmetlz Restaurant and Matthew Strickland, we are very pleased with Judge Rigual’s Order today denying the Commonwealth’s request for a Temporary Injunction that would have the effect of putting Gourmeltz, its owner and its employees out of business. We look forward to a further hearing in the near future at which time we will have full opportunity to establish the unconstitutionality of what the Governor and the Commonwealth officials are doing." 

Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health shared this statement: 

"We are disappointed in the judge’s ruling this week as we remain concerned that the public health is at risk. The Virginia Department of Health remains committed to protecting the health and safety of person's at risk of COVID-19."