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Franklin County wedding venue lawsuit against Gov. Ralph Northam ends

This move comes after Northam increased the outdoor gathering limit to 100 people

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WIRTZ, Va. – A Virginia wedding venue lawsuit against Gov. Ralph Northam has come to an end.

The US District Court in Roanoke denied the injunction requested by Franklin County wedding venue, Belle Garden Estate.

Belle Garden Estate took legal action following Northam’s announcement of loosened COVID-19 restrictions for outdoor venues.

Isabelle Russell, the owner of the wedding venue, said that she and the other members of the wedding industry are being treated unfairly in terms of loosening restrictions.

Back in early March, at the time of the lawsuit, Virginia limited wedding venues to no more than 25 attendees outdoors.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Northam announced that new gathering changes will go into effect on April 1, including increasing social gatherings to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

In a Facebook post from the attorney involved with the case, Tim Anderson, the governor’s last-minute change one day before the hearing on the injunction greatly influenced the pending action, leading to the end of the lawsuit.

“While the Court found that the Governor’s restrictions on weddings were not a violation of equal protection today, the Court did give a clue as to its opinion moving forward in Footnote 5,” said Anderson wrote.

It reads: “The court does note, however, that the data cited in the Governor’s order grow more favorable with each passing day. While it is easy to say that the public interest weighs against enjoining Order 72 at the moment, the possibility of infectious disease is not talisman against injunctive relief. If the pandemic continues to abate, the court may be obligated to scrutinize the purported justifications for restrictions that individuals and businesses, like Belle Garden, contend impose of their constitutional rights.”

About the Author:

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.