CHEHALIS, Wash. - A restaurant owner who's made headlines for defying Gov. Jay Inslee's ban on indoor dining has been fined $67,000 for refusing to follow the restrictions put in place to fight the spread of Covid-19.
Inslee confirmed the $67,000 Labor and Industry Board fine during a news conference Tuesday, when the governor extended temporary Covid-19 restrictions through January 4, 2021. Those restrictions include a ban on indoor dining and wedding and funeral receptions, as well as limited retail capacity, among others.
Rod Samuelson, owner of Spiffy's Restaurant and Bakery in Chehalis, told Q13 News last week that he kept his doors open for indoor dining so his struggling staff could remain employed. He called the defiance a "peaceful protest" against the state.
“Enough is enough. We just can’t keep taking this thing sitting down. There’s too many lives that are at stake here,” Samuelson said last week.
In a letter sent to the governor's office last week, Lewis County's top law enforcement officials said smaller communities in Washington state - like Chehalis - don't have the resources to enforce the new rules. They asked that Inslee send Washington State Patrol if the state wants law enforcement to intervene.
The state did send Labor and Industry Board investigators to the restaurant, where Spiffy's supporters lined up to "film and keep the peace." Some of them wore tactigal gear and carried semi-automatic weapons, according to The Daily Chronicle.
Samuelson said he has no plans to close despite the fines. The industry board has threatened criminal action if he continues to violate the restrictions.
Inslee said Tuesday that businesses caught violating the rules can be fined up to $9,000 per day or per violation. He also said the vast majority of businesses were in compliance.