Virginia restaurant owner's license suspended for flouting COVID rules — but he'll stay open anyway
Matt Strickland during an interview with Fox 5. (Screenshot)

On Monday, ABC 13 News reported that a Spotsylvania County, Virginia, restaurant has had its license suspended for ignoring statewide COVID-19 health restrictions — but the restaurant owner has made it clear he'll keep his restaurant open anyway, in defiance of local officials.

"Matt Strickland is the owner of Gourmeltz and an Army veteran," said the report. "The Rappahannock Area Health District (RAHD) said in a statement last week that since Dec. 13, 2020, they have received over 50 complaints of Gourmeltz related to the requirements of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's Executive Order 72 (EO72), including reports of employees who were not wearing masks, customers sitting at the bar, and the restaurant not following required social distancing guidelines."

"We will be opening at 3 pm tomorrow," said Strickland in a statement posted to Facebook on Saturday. "To the Governor, health department, and OSHA: if you're actually interested in what we as American's [sic] want instead of trying to rule by force, come on by Gourmeltz and look at all the happy smiling faces."

Even as vaccines are being distributed, the U.S. is currently nowhere near herd immunity levels of protection against COVID-19, which has now mutated into even more infectious variants. Several state and local governments consequently still have public health restrictions in place, although GOP officials have pushed back on expert recommendations and demanded faster reopenings.

Watch video via Fox 5 DC below: