An Oxford County judge has ordered that Sunday River Brewing Co. must allow state workers to conduct inspections, according to the Lewiston Sun Journal.
The judge, Justice Thomas McKeon, granted the injunction at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services, but stopped short of requiring the restaurant to close until inspectors approved the restaurant’s operation.
One of the Bethel restaurant’s owners, Rick Savage, has been a high-profile opponent to restrictions put in place by Gov. Janet Mills to slow the spread of coronavirus, making multiple media appearances in the spring. Sunday River Brewing’s licenses were temporarily revoked in May, and the state’s case against Savage and the restaurant has seen a number of developments since then.
Over the summer, according to the Sun Journal, the state received complaints that Sunday River Brewing still was not complying with state COVID-19 requirements, prompting another license suspension and the state’s request for a court order requiring that the restaurant adhere to the safety rules aimed at preventing the coronavirus’ spread.
That court order, granted Sept. 4, required Sunday River Brewing to implement safeguards that are standard in other Maine eateries, such as installing Plexiglas shields, requiring employees to wear masks whenever they come into contact with others, and setting tables and booths 6 feet apart.
But in early October, a Bangor Daily News photo showed Savage and another employee without face coverings. When a public health inspector showed up at the restaurant shortly afterward, Savage — who was not wearing a mask at the time and told the BDN early this month, “I never wore one, and I’m not wearing one” — didn’t let the inspector in, according to McKeon’s ruling.
Savage claimed in court that the safety measures are in use, but inspectors have not been able to confirm that. The restaurant will remain in operation pending a court hearing next month, the Sun Journal reports.