Mandate still in effect after lawsuit settled

Proof-of-vaccine for restaurants and bars to continue for at least several weeks

PORT ANGELES — A lawsuit against Clallam County and Dr. Allison Berry challenging her proof-of-COVID-19-vaccination mandate for restaurants and bars has been settled, Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Bert Boughton said Wednesday.

A Kitsap County Superior Court hearing Wednesday on the injunction sought by six Clallam County restaurant owners was stricken from the calendar. The three Clallam County Superior Court judges had recused themselves from the case.

Under the agreement, Berry’s Sept. 2 health order that went into effect Sept. 4 restricting indoor dining and drinking to vaccinated individuals will remain in effect for the near future, Boughton said.

He said he will not disclose details of the pact until it is finalized.

Outdoor dining and drinking by unvaccinated individuals is permitted.

“The mandate is not going to disappear today or tomorrow,” Boughton said.

“The case has been resolved.

“We reached a resolution in principal and we just need to put it in writing.

“I’m hopeful we’ll have this done and completed, certainly by the end of [today],” he said late Wednesday afternoon.

Berry is expected to review the pact by today.

Bougton said Berry took part in a meeting with owners of restaurants who filed the Nov. 24 mandate injunction request last week that led to the settlement.

“I think we, for the most part, hammered out the remaining sticking points,” he said.

Berry said the proof-of-vaccination mandate will remain in effect for several more weeks.

“I am still looking at a mid-March lifting of the order,” she said in a text message.

Sequim lawyer William Payne, who represents the restaurant owners, could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Boughton said he was busy Wednesday with court matters.

Kitsap County court scheduler Jenn Kluver said she was informed via email by the Clallam County Superior Court Administrator’s Office that the hearing was being stricken because the parties had reached an agreement.

Boughton said he and Payne were still discussing Wednesday when the mandate would be removed.

Michael McQuay, owner of Kokopelli Grill/Coyote BBQ Pub in Port Angeles and a plaintiff in the injunction request, said he and the other restaurant owners had a productive meeting last week at the Clallam County Courthouse with Berry and Boughton.

“Last Thursday is when we all agreed,” McQuay said.

“I was worried it wasn’t going to come to an end, and I’m glad we’ve reached a resolution.”

He cautioned that the agreement still must be signed.

“We didn’t get everything we wanted, which is what you do when you settle,” McQuay said.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Dr. Berry. She’s had her hands full for two years. We all have,” he said.

“It became a little more apparent how tough her job is.”

The injunction request was filed Nov. 24 by McQuay and the operators of The Oasis Bar and Grill, Blondie’s Plate, Jose’s Famous Salsa and Salsa House Restaurant, and Sunshine Cafe, all in Sequim, and Blackberry Cafe in Joyce.

They said in their complaint for injunctive relief and declaratory judgement that the health order violates their “economic liberty,” has cost them revenue and customers, and is arbitrary by applying solely to restaurants and bars.

They wanted the mandate to be declared invalid.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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