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Local bar, nightclub owners suing officials with City of Wichita, Sedgwick County

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 3:30 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Local bar and nightclub owners filed a federal lawsuit against several officials with the City of Wichita, as well as Sedgwick County. They claim the current health order, which limits gathering sizes and imposes a curfew, is a Constitutional violation. If the nearly-a-dozen business owners are successful in court, business in Sedgwick County would essentially return to how it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. This means there would be no mask requirements, gathering limits or curfews before the usual 2 a.m. closing time.

The list of defendants is extensive. It includes three current and one former Sedgwick County commissioner, Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple, three Wichita City Council members, Wichita Poice Chief Gordon Ramsay, and Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter. It also includes local health officials. Among them is Sedgwick county Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns who called for the public health order.

Wichita bar and nightclub owners who spoke with Eyewitness News Tuesday (Dec. 8) did not want to go on camera. A handful of them said they’re not against mask orders, just the li

mits that have been placed on their businesses. They said they’re being targeted with restrictions like curfews (early closing times) and reduced capacity. Not being able to stay open until 2 a.m. has been especially difficult, with lost time leading to lost revenue every night.

Businesses whose owners are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Blu Nightclub, Club Indigo, Vorshay’s Cocktail Lounge, The Cowboy Inn, Party Express, The Stop, The Rusy Nail, Augustino Brewing Co., A & J’s Music Room Bar & Grill, and Revolution Lounge.

Vorshay’s Cocktail Lounge owner Steven Peters said he and most other bar owners feel like they’re being targeted by local officials.

“What we want to have happen is we want to be able to have our way of life, and still be able to pay our bills, and still be able to make a future after this is all over,” he said. “Because let’s be honest, this will be over, and I think it’s closer to being over. But we’re barely hanging on”

Whipple said he understands the business owners’ frustration, but right now, COVID-19 is taking a huge toll on the community.

“Particularly with the entertainment sector, they’ve been hit hard with this. But again, we’re in an unprecedented situation with our hospitals overflowing right now with COVID patients,” Whipple said. “We’re seeing, I think, one-third of all deaths from this pandemic happen within the last 30 days. We are just in the worst situation we’ve been in when it comes to COVID.”

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