ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage diner owner who kept his restaurant open for dine-in service in defiance of an order meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus said the business would be open for takeout only amid concerns with possible fines.
Andy Kriner, who with his wife owns Kriner’s Diner, in a Facebook video post Sunday said the restaurant cannot afford to pay daily fines that could grow in size, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The diner’s Facebook page said it was open for curbside delivery and takeout Monday.
The Municipality of Anchorage previously requested a contempt of court hearing after the restaurant’s owners defied a judge’s ruling to halt indoor dining service and comply with the city order.
The motion filed Saturday requested contempt sanctions against the diner and its owners.
City attorneys said they do not want the defendants jailed but are trying to make sure the restaurant stops indoor dining service to protect the health of Anchorage residents.
The motion also accuses the restaurant’s attorney, Blake Quackenbush, of encouraging and participating in the violation, arguing the lawyer should be sanctioned.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued an emergency order temporarily prohibiting indoor dining at restaurants and breweries as the number of confirmed cases increased. The order encouraged takeout, curbside and delivery options instead.
Kriner’s Diner continued dine-in service after the order went into effect Aug. 3 and the business was issued a stop-work order.
Quackenbush argued the order violates the Alaska Constitution and said the city has not shown evidence that the diner’s business practices contributed to the spread of the virus.
Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth granted the city’s motion for a temporary injunction against Kriner’s on Friday.
Kriner’s was open Saturday with a line of customers waiting outside. The restaurant was crowded all week with diners supporting its stand. The diner was closed Sunday.
Anchorage spokesperson Carolyn Hall said in a statement that officials were disappointed the owners “continue to choose to flout the law” when they have the opportunity to make a case in court against the order.
Katie Payton of Blake Fulton Quackenbush Family Law said Saturday the firm had no comment other than calling the diner “a great client with a great business.”
Kriner has said half of the diner’s revenue would be lost with takeout service.
On Monday, Superior Court Judge Erin Marston ordered the Little Dipper Diner in Anchorage to stop indoor service.
The Little Dipper Diner, on its Facebook page, said it would be closed Monday for “much needed rest.” The voicemail for the diner’s number did not accept new messages Monday afternoon.
The city has issued stop-work orders for a least three businesses that offered dine-in service in spite of Berkowitz’s order, including Kriner’s Diner and the Little Dipper Diner.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.