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NEWPORT — A Superior Court judge has ruled for the state of Vermont in its case against a Newport business owner who was found in violation of Gov. Phil Scott's executive order requiring the wearing of masks in businesses. 

At Orleans Superior Court, Judge Mary Miles Teachout ruled for the state in its action against HNR Desautels LLC, doing business as Derby Port Press, and its owner, Andre Desautels.

“The facts are clear that both the business entity ...  and Mr. Desautels personally were in violation of the ACCD rules on February 18 and 22, 2021, and on other days in which the store was open for business and he was not wearing a face covering over his nose and mouth when in the presence of others,” Teachout said in the decision

The decision and injunction compel the business and Desautels to comply with the executive orders. 

"Specifically, Defendants shall not employ any persons or open any premises for business without compliance with EO 01-20 and its addenda and ACCD’s Phased Restart Work Safe Guidance," the injunction said.

As part of the ruling, Teachout found that the emergency management statute is constitutional, and that rules created by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) via the statute need not adhere to the rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act.

On Feb. 23, Teachout issued a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction sought by Attorney General T.J. Donvoan to halt violation of the executive order. Compliance checks conducted by Newport Police Department showed the defendants had continued to violate the governor’s orders even after the complaint was filed. 

“While I am pleased with the Court’s decision, I remain troubled by the fact that this entire situation was completely avoidable,” Donovan said in a news release announcing the ruling. “To the Vermonters and Vermont business owners who have done the right thing throughout this pandemic and followed the Governor’s orders, I thank you.”

Greg Sukiennik covers Vermont government and politics for New England Newspapers. Reach him at gsukiennik@reformer.com.

Greg Sukiennik has worked at all three Vermont News & Media newspapers and was their managing editor from 2017-19. He previously worked for ESPN.com, for the AP in Boston, and at The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass.


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