WIRTZ, VA. (WDBJ) – A Virginia court has dismissed an injunction filed by a wedding venue in the Smith Mountain Lake area against Governor Northam’s COVID-19-related mass restrictions.
“It was just very confusing and frustrating that all of these mandates were coming out, and none of them had a positive effect on the wedding industry,” said owner Isabelle Russell after filing the lawsuit.
After the lawsuit closed, attorney Tim Anderson said on a Facebook post, “Although Belle Garden Estate is disappointed, he believes this suit helped move the needle on how wedding venues are being treated unfairly by the Virginia governor. When the lawsuit was filed in early March 2021, the then governor limited wedding venues to no more than 25 outdoor participants. The day before the injunction hearing, the governor increased that number to 100 participants in the open air. We believe that this last-minute change by the governor on the eve of this injunction was largely influenced by the pending lawsuit. “
Anderson said the court ruled that the governor’s restrictions on weddings were not a violation of equal protections, but included this notice:
However, the court notes that the dates mentioned in the governor’s order become more favorable with each passing day. While it is easy to say that there is currently public interest against the passage of Ordinance 72, the possibility of infectious disease is not a talisman against injunctive relief. If the pandemic continues to subside, the court may be required to review the alleged justifications for restrictions that individuals and companies like Belle Garden are asserting on their constitutional rights. “
Anderson said his client still feels it is unfair to allow a concert venue to be 30% busy and have up to 5,000 people outside, but limit an outdoor wedding venue to 100 people. He said the company will decide whether to appeal the ruling.
Copyright 2021 WDBJ. All rights reserved.