The Ohio restaurant facing charges for reopening their business to diners will get a break. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asked a court in Cambridge to drop criminal charges against the National Road Diner.
The restaurant’s crime? They opened their dining room up to serve customers in violation of the Ohio Department of Health’s “Dine Safe Ohio” order.
The state allowed indoor dining to resume on May 21. The National Road Diner allowed diners into their business in early May. According to Yost, the business owners, Dwight and Vicki Brearley decided they could not abide by the restrictions anymore.
Keep It Civil
Law enforcement warned the pair of the violation. Their local health department also cautioned them permitting dine-in service. However, on May 6, the couple allowed multiple people to buy meals and eat them at tables inside the diner.
Yost said that there are two ways to address violations of an emergency health order:
- civil lawsuit
- second-degree misdemeanor charges
“Unless there’s something really unusual, Ohio’s policy is better served by a civil injunction,” said Yost, “Sending a business owner with no prior record to jail does nothing to promote public health. An injunction – and compliance – can be obtained very quickly. Criminal due process takes longer – for example, this case is not set until August 27, long after the public health order expired.”
Sending A Signal
In a statement, Yost said he hoped this decision would send a signal to authorities across the state about how to charge violations of the restaurant re-opening rules.
“Each case obviously turns on its own unique facts – but I hope this will provide guidance and some degree of consistency for charging decisions around the state,” he said.
The owners of the diner, complied with all health, sanitation and distancing measures. Their only violation involved opening for diners three weeks ahead of the rest of the state.