The owner of a Palmyra, Pennsylvania, Italian restaurant who defied Gov. Tom Wolf's COVID-mandated business shutdowns just won a significant victory in court. In May, Taste of Sicily co-owner Mike Mangano was ordered by the state to remain shuttered, but decided instead to open up completely – no masks, social distancing, or plastic barriers.
Eric Winter, the attorney who represented Taste of Sicily in court, explained the decision was made out of financial necessity.
"The business needed it," Winter said. "The family needed it, and they needed to do things to survive. They went ahead and reopened. And at that point, they had great support from the local level elected officials."
Nevertheless, Wolf's administration hit Taste of Sicily with $10,000 worth of fines for violating his decree. Mangano was undeterred.
"Some rob you with a gun, while others rob you with a pen," he said. "There's absolutely no fear here. We're going to continue to come to work, and the governor ain't going to do anything about it…We ain't paying crap."
Pennsylvania Judge Carl Garvey agreed with that sentiment, ruling that the family-owned business was treated in an unconstitutional manner and that they would not be liable for any arbitrarily assigned fines from Wolf's administration.
The governor said he intends to appeal the ruling, suggesting that the virus "upsurge" has been coming from restaurants and bars, and therefore, "looking at how we deal with those restaurants is an important policy tool" in combatting the pandemic.
"We don't care what the repercussions may be," Mangano reiterated. "We want the world to see how ridiculous it is for being penalized to go to work."