A court hearing on an injunction proposed against a mandate for proof of vaccination against COVID-19 has been delayed until Jan. 7 while parties in the dispute lay groundwork for discussing a potential resolution that could involve a face-to-face meeting.
Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, issued a health order on Sept. 2 that requires customers of restaurants and bars to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
The order, which took effect Sept. 4, was challenged in an action filed in Clallam County Superior Court by six eateries in Sequim, Port Angeles and Joyce.
Their Nov. 24 injunction request against Berry and Clallam County was scheduled to be heard Friday in Kitsap County Superior Court after Clallam County’s three judges recused themselves.
It was rescheduled to Jan. 7, a court spokesperson said on Dec. 17.
The plaintiffs are The Oasis Bar and Grill (doing business as Diamond Point Dreams) and other companies doing business as Kokopelli Grill/Coyote BBQ Pub in Port Angeles; Blondie’s Plate restaurant and Jose’s Famous Salsa and Salsa House Restaurant, all in Sequim; and Blackberry Cafe in Joyce.
They contend the restriction is unconstitutional by singling them out and discriminating against them, that it has hurt their ability to make a living and that it compromises their “economic liberty,” a fundamental right.
Unvaccinated individuals are allowed to dine and drink outdoors. Some establishments are not checking for proof of vaccination, saying they lack the staff to do so.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Bert Boughton, representing Berry and Clallam County, and Sequim lawyer William Payne, representing the plaintiffs, said Friday they are talking about determining a time and place to discuss an agreement that would, within the next three weeks, avoid further legal action.
“We have talked, and we are just trying to work it out in the best interest of our clients,” Payne said.