Restaurant alliance drops suit over Pitkin County’s now defunct Red restrictions
With restaurants back to serving patrons indoors, the Pitkin County Restaurant Alliance announced Wednesday it has dropped its lawsuit challenging last month’s Board of Health decision to install Red-level restrictions.
By dropping the suit without prejudice, the alliance can pursue the claims again. For now, however, the litigation is off.
“The health board has heard loud and clear the public outcry opposing its misguided decision to deviate from state standards and to elect to go into level Red when it wasn’t necessary or required,” said a statement from alliance attorney Chris Bryan. “The Alliance hopes that, moving forward, Board of Health members agree to follow the science and to abide by the state of Colorado’s revamped dial, instead of relying on guesswork in making COVID-19 decisions.”
Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock said he was encouraged by the alliance’s decision to dismiss the suit. If anything, it shows progress in the wake of pandemic-related events devastating to businesses, the workforce and community morale.
With a dropping incidence rate that went below 700 Monday, the county returned to Orange-level guidelines Tuesday after spending 15 days under Red restrictions that don’t allow indoor dining in restaurants.
The Orange level permits indoor dining at the lower of either 25% capacity or 50 patrons. Rules require tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart and parties must be capped at 10 people.
The nonprofit group had sought a preliminary injunction to suspend the Red-level restrictions approved Jan. 11 and effective Jan. 17, with a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled Feb. 19.
The alliance was formed Jan. 13 and on Jan. 14 took to court defendants Pitkin County, the Board of Health, the health department and Pitkin County interim Public Health Director Jordana Sabella. The group also had sought judicial review of the Board of Heath’s amended public health order putting the county into the Red.
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Nearly 100 locally-owned businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have been awarded grants from a pool of $1.2 million in relief funds from Pitkin County.