(The Center Square) – Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt's recent emergency proclamation requiring restaurants and bars to end all in-person service at 11 p.m. has many entrepreneurs in the service industry up in arms.
Bar owners say this is shutting them down during their prime business hours. As a result, several bar owners are suing the city in hopes that the rule won't be enforced.
Oklahoma City's order aligns with Gov. Kevin Stitt's executive order issued mid-November.
"Any new restrictions are going to impact small business owners who rely on customers to physically come in their doors," Jerrod Shouse, Oklahoma state director at National Federation of Independent Business, told The Center Square. "That’s especially true for the retail and service industry, which, according to a recent NFIB survey, have been hardest hit by the pandemic."
Frank Urbanic, an attorney representing seven plaintiffs, explained that the city does not have the right to enforce the rule, which violates the 14th Amendment by mandating bars close while other businesses are allowed to remain open, according to KOKH.
"The governor is doing what he thinks is right to keep people in Oklahoma safe. ... But many small business owners are hanging on by a thread. And with new restrictions and without any new Paycheck Protection Program funding, many will be forced to shut their doors for good," Shouse said.
A recent NFIB survey revealed that one in five small businesses report that they will have to shut their doors in the next six months if economic conditions don’t improve.
Shouse stated that small business owners are being responsible and doing what it takes to keep their customers and employees safe.
"They would prefer the flexibility to make their own decisions when it comes to keeping their business open rather than a government mandate," Shouse said. "However, compared with other states with much stricter shut downs, Oklahoma’s approach has been much smarter."