Two owners of a Pennsylvania restaurant who were fined nearly $10,000 for opening their doors amid coronavirus restrictions have been found not guilty.
According to Local 21 News Harrisburg, a judge in Lebanon County found the restaurant, Taste of Sicily, not guilty as it continues its fight against coronavirus restrictions put into place by Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf.
“The crux of the legal argument is that orders that have been issued by the Governor and The Department of Health are legally unenforceable. Judge Garvey agreed with that argument,” said Eric Winter, the restaurant’s lawyer.
The restaurant, which is owned by siblings Michael Mangano and Christine Wartluft, opened its doors in May as restrictions ran rampant throughout the state in an effort to “make a living.”
“We were absolutely ecstatic,” Mangano said of the judge’s ruling. “You know a lot of people said a lot of different things about Taste of Sicily. We were selfish. All we cared about was business and money, and it’s like, we need to make a living.”
“GOD IS SO GOOD!!!!!” the restaurant’s official Facebook page posted as it shared the news of the ruling. “WHAT AN AMAZING VICTORY.”
Mangano also offered advice to other restaurants in the state, telling them not to pay fines and instead “take them to court.”
“When you get these fines from these agents do not pay them,” Mangano said. “Plead not guilty, and take them to court. As you can see we won because they had no legal right to fine us for those mandates and guidelines the governor and Levine implemented. You have to stick together and go to court.”
According to the restaurant’s lawyer, the restaurant will not be held responsible for paying any fines.
Wolf is not happy with the ruling and announced he plans to appeal the decision even though he has not “had a chance to look at the ruling.”
— Asia Tabb CBS 21 (@asiaontv) October 19, 2020
“[I] will be appealing that, and, uh, and I haven’t really had a chance to look at the ruling, so I’m not sure what the logic was of that,” Wolf said at a press conference when asked about the ruling.
“Looking at how we deal with those restaurants is an important policy tool … trying to address the challenges of the pandemic,” Wolf added.