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C.O. businesses fighting big fines over violating state, local COVID-19 rules

Claims county 'acknowledgement' was not approval; Bend fires back over 'legally ridiculous refusal' to follow mask order

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Three Central Oregon businesses that were fined large sums for violating Covid-19 restrictions such as mask requirements last spring are appealing the penalties and in some cases taking their battle to court.

Kevista Coffee in Bend, Black Bear Diner in Bend and Redmond, and Cork Cellars Wine and Bistro in Sisters were all fined thousands of dollars. All are appealing the Oregon OSHA penalties

Kevista lost its case in Bend Municipal Court. The owners are now appealing in Deschutes County Circuit Court.

Their attorney, Kevin Mannix, argues that when the city of Bend issued an emergency order, it failed to get the required approval from Deschutes County.

According to meeting minutes, county commissioners "acknowledged" the emergency mask order.

Mannix argues that's different than an "approval."

Kevista Coffee is facing over $100,000 in state OSHA and local fines - but its attorney says it's not about the money, rather the legality of it.

"If the City of Bend wanted to, they could have passed their own ordinance about masks," Mannix told NewsChannel 21 on Friday. "Then they would have had to have public hearings, listen to the public and have a vote of the City Council, where the public participates in the process."

"They have not done that. They didn't do that -- and instead, they simply adopted an order saying that they're going to fine businesses that don't comply with their mask restrictions." Mannix added.

Mannix said he represents 41 businesses around the state facing the same issue.

Assistant City Attorney Ian Leitheiser provided the following response to NewsChannel 21:

"The city followed its process for issuing the emergency declaration, which allowed the city to be flexible and nimble in protecting the public and serving the community during the covid-19 pandemic. The emergency declaration is valid. This case is about Kevista’s willful, irresponsible, and legally ridiculous refusal to accept that the City’s mask order applied to them. The effort by Kevista and Mr. Mannix to undermine the City’s emergency declaration is a cynical and selfish deflection that seeks to elevate Kevista’s misguided views above the community good."

Mannix says he expects the circuit court review to take a few months.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus
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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

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