Local restaurant pushes back against new COVID-19 mandates
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Starting on Monday morning, Anchorage began what Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is referring to as a “four week reset.” Part of the tightened restrictions, meant to curb a steady increase in COVID-19 cases, was an order to end dine-in operations at all restaurants located within the municipality.
On Sunday, The Kriner’s Diner Facebook page posted a photo and subsequent comments, acknowledging plans to serve a dine-in breakfast special, despite the mandate.
As promised, the diner’s doors opened at 9 a.m. on Monday. Within 15 minutes, all of the tables were full. Owner Andy Kriner is still enforcing mask requirements and social distancing rules, but he says shutting down his dining room for a second time is out of the question.
“We still have other stores open. All of these places are open, so why do I have to close?” Kriner asked. “I’m following all of the protocols. I just don’t understand how they can pick and choose and say ‘You’re closed, you’re open, you’re closed'... and I have no outdoor seating here. There’s no possible way.”
Kriner’s second Anchorage-based restaurant, Kriner’s Burgers and Pies, is currently limiting itself to carry out service, in compliance with the mandates. Kriner says he could not do that with the diner at this point. He estimates that eliminating dine-in customers costs him about 60% of the revenue that his diner normally generates.
“I think it’s a tough decision for the mayor,” Kriner said. “I think it’s a horrible decision to have to make ... He made his decision, I am making my decision. We will see what happens.”
As far as what will happen, it isn’t quite clear. Kriner told KTUU that he has reached out to someone at city hall in an attempt to learn more about the consequences of ignoring the mandates, but did not receive a clear answer.
The mayor’s office has provided KTUU with a written statement which reads, in part: “The Municipality is pursuing all enforcement options, including informing and educating businesses in violation of the Emergency Order as well as issuing fines and Stop Work Orders.”
According to Kriner, his business will pay any fines that are issued -- if he can do so and maintain operations at the diner.
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