PITTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania appellate court ruled in favor of the Allegheny County Health Department on Friday, finding that the forced closure of the Crack’d Egg restaurant in Brentwood was appropriate given its owner’s refusal to follow Covid-19 mitigation measures.
According to our news partners at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the decision has no practical effect because Gov. Tom Wolf lifted safety protocols, including the mask mandate, at the end of June.
The restaurant, which debuted in 2015 along Brownsville Road, reopened on July 3.
Attorney Jim Cooney, who represents the Crack’d Egg, said there are still possible implications from the opinion — including whether the restaurant faces sanctions for operating while it was ordered to be closed. In addition, he noted that Covid-19 is still circulating, the Trib reported.
“It’s making its rounds again with an even more powerful variant, so who knows if they’re going to shut this down again,” Cooney said. “We’re grateful the court considered our arguments, but we think they’re wrong.”
His client plans to ask for a rehearing before an en banc, or nine-judge, panel of the Commonwealth Court.
<<< RELATED STORY: Judge orders ‘Crack’d Egg’ owner to follow Covid-19 rules or close up
The lengthy court battle for the Crack’d Egg began in August when the county health department ordered it to close after multiple complaints that its owner, Kimberly Waigand, was not following Covid-19 mitigation measures, including masking and social distancing.
Despite the orders, the restaurant continued to operate until Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge John McVay granted a request for a preliminary injunction by the county in February following a three-day hearing.
McVay heard testimony from the county health department director and others who said that masks substantially decrease the risk of infection, according to the Trib.
Waigand testified during the hearing that she would never require masks at her restaurant, calling them — and the emergency measures through which the Wolf administration implemented them — unconstitutional.
McVay was not swayed.
“If I did not grant the injunction, restaurants that are following the rules will become less likely to do so and thus further increasing public health risks to everyone involved and possibly increasing overall community spread,” McVay wrote in his decision.
Waigand appealed to the state Commonwealth Court, which heard arguments in June.
In its 34-page opinion, the Commonwealth Court found that the restaurant was unable to prove that the lower court’s opinion on the motion for preliminary injunction was in error.
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