State files injunction motion against Hanover seafood restaurant
Calabash Seafood still open after orders to close for not following COVID-19 measures
Updated, Aug. 19
The state health commissioner and the Virginia Board of Health have filed a motion for an injunction against a seafood restaurant in Hanover County that refuses to close in spite of multiple public health orders alleging it is in violation of the state’s COVID-19 rules.
Calabash Seafood has been “serving customers food without a license” for the past three weeks, reads a motion filed by Attorney General Mark Herring’s office Monday in the Hanover County Circuit Court. The state asks the court to “order that the defendants close the restaurant while the restaurant license is suspended … until the matter is decided on the merits.”
According to the motion, the Hanover Health Department received “numerous complaints” related to employees not wearing masks in areas with customers and not requiring patrons to wear masks when they were not eating or drinking. Also, the restaurant did not close the bar area and other areas where people congregate, which is required by State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver’s and Gov. Ralph Northam’s public health and executive orders.
Herring’s office, in a statement Monday, said the Mechanicsville restaurant has received a complaint that the manager of the restaurant “did not take the threat of COVID seriously, saying that the ‘health department could not tell him what to do,’ that ‘the servers did not need to wear face coverings,’ and that he ‘did not see the need for face coverings, claiming that COVID-19 was pretty much over.'”
The restaurant’s license was suspended July 27 after multiple inspections, the AG’s office said, and a second notice of license suspension took place Aug. 13.
In a video posted by Republican gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase on Facebook last week, Calabash Seafood owner Dennis W. Smith said, “It’s going to take a court order” to close the restaurant. Chase was criticized for refusing to wear a mask at a Harrisonburg restaurant and threatening to sue its owners after they enforced their mask policy.
Other restaurants in the state have had their licenses suspended for not following the state’s policies intended to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, but none have remained open.
Smith said Monday evening he had no comment, and cook Richard A. Shearin, also named as a plaintiff, was not available for comment. An employee at Calabash said the restaurant planned to open Monday as usual.
A hearing has been set Sept. 1 in Hanover County Circuit Court.