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Florence Restaurant Fined For Pandemic Violations That Endangered Workers

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A Florence restaurant that continued to potentially expose employees to COVID-19 has been fined nearly $18,000.

Oregon OSHA says operators of The Little Brown Hen willfully violated a public health order while Lane County was listed at “Extreme” risk.

Spokesperson Aaron Corvin says when two OSHA regulators attempted an inspection on January 4th, they were blocked by a group of people, including one carrying a firearm.

“Traditionally this has not been an issue but given the pandemic and certainly certain extremists groups encouraging such things, this is unprecedented but it is not surprising in this current context," Corvin told KLCC. 

"We’ve had at least a couple other cases where you’ve either had protests or at least one person armed, and threats to state regulators and blocking access to the establishment.”

As the OSHA officers left, the group followed and shouted at them.

OSHA had received complaints about the café since late December.  The penalty is twice the minimum for a willful violation.  In a release, Oregon OSHA says the inspection included visual confirmation of indoor dining and a January 5th ohone interview with owner Stacey Brown, who said she understood the public health rules regarding the spread of the disease in Lane County.

The Little Brown Hen – which operates under the business name of the New Blue Hen – has 30 days to appeal.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

A call to the café was not answered.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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