Two Louisville bars will file lawsuit over COVID rules

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) — With COVID-19 orders still in place across Kentucky, two Louisville bar owners are the latest to file a lawsuit against the governor, claiming the restrictions on bars and restaurants are discriminatory.

Back Door Bar owner John Dant, Dundee Tavern owner Alan Hincks and the owners of B.J. Novelty are filing a class-action lawsuit against Gov. Andy Beshear, KY Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, and KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services secretary Eric Friedlander.

Back Door used to serve up alcohol and food until 4 a.m. and owner John Dant said losing six hours of possible service has “crushed” business.

“When it was 50% [capacity] and we were allowed to stay open, it was fantastic. We were actually making money. We were able to make ends meet,” he said.

Dant said business is down 70% since Beshear put in place a restriction on bars and restaurants, stopping sales at 10 p.m. The mandate went into effect Aug. 10, with no expiration date.

“We do anything that’s required that any other business would do. We feel that we’re singled out,” he said.

The lawsuit, expected to be filed Friday, claims the COVID-19 orders are “contradictory, ludicrous, arbitrary, and discriminatory.”

“We’re not surviving off it,” Dant said. “It’s getting tighter and tighter.”

This lawsuit is asking a judge to declare the orders unconstitutional and also seeks compensation for the lost business revenue.

“Give us an opportunity to get our feet back on the ground,” Dant said.

The governor’s spokesperson responded to the lawsuit writing, “The White House recommends that bars in Jefferson County remain closed and restaurants capacity be limited to 25%. Understanding these are small businesses, Gov. Beshear has tried to be more flexible and provide some relief — setting a curfew that is being used in a number of states and encouraging outdoor dining expansion. Battling a virus that has killed over 170,000 Americans is not easy and requires tough choices.”

Dant said he’s speaking out for other bars and restaurants also going through what he’s experiencing.

That sentiment was echoed by Dundee Tavern owner Alan Hincks.

“We want to show every business owner in the hospitality industry that is licensed to serve alcohol in the Commonwealth that we all need to hear our voices about the devastation that Frankfort is putting on our industry with the ever changing, ongoing mandates,” Hincks said in a message.

Dant said several businesses have already reached out to him either supporting, or looking to join the lawsuit.

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