SALEM — A federal judge has decided that a group of businesses and political action committees that tried to block Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 restrictions have not shown enough evidence to prompt such a move.
The group — which includes the Gresham restaurant Spud Monkey’s Bar and Grill, its owner Melissa Adams and political action committees Oregon Moms Union and Heart of Main Street — filed a temporary restraining order against Brown on May 5, protesting the “unfair restrictions” they said the governor had placed on businesses and public school children.
Such a filing indicates members of the group believe they are at risk of facing immediate damage from the governor’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Judge Karin Immergut has declined to issue the restraining order, saying in a Thursday, May 20, filing that the group had “failed to show sufficient facts and adequate legal support” to warrant a block on Brown’s restrictions.
Brown’s lawyers argued none of the plaintiffs could show they had suffered specific ramifications as a result of the governor’s orders. Spud Monkey’s, meanwhile, has been cited for violating Brown’s ban on indoor dining earlier in the pandemic.
Brown’s lawyers also said her executive order was not the only rule requiring schools to comply with COVID-19 measures, as the Oregon State Board of Education had separately mandated all public and charter schools to follow COVID-19 safety protocols for the entire academic year.
As such, Brown’s lawyers said, striking down the executive order would not force all public schools to return to full-time, in-person learning for the remainder of the school year — as the group that filed the lawsuit desired.
The governor’s team also said Brown’s executive order did not prevent schools from returning to full-time, in-person learning but instead required schools to offer some type of hybrid instruction.
Brown has continually evaluated the risks brought on by gatherings and updating state rules based on those factors, including how many people are vaccinated, according to her lawyers.
Despite Thursday’s temporary restraining order denial, a lawsuit the group filed May 4 against Brown remains active. It seeks an injunction barring the enforcement of the governor’s COVID-19 restrictions.
The Oregon Health Authority issued new guidance May 18 that allows people to go maskless outside and gives businesses the option to either continue requiring masks or allow fully vaccinated customers who show proof of inoculation to forgo masks indoors.