Virginia veteran who bucked Covid orders vows to fight on after his restaurant stormed by authorities

The perceived danger of COVID may have receded, but the dangers of the draconian COVID response have lingered on and Friday a Virginia business owner took the brunt of authoritarianism when his restaurant was raided.

Matt Strickland is a U.S. Army veteran, candidate for state Senate and small business owner of Gourmeltz in Fredericksburg, Va., and in 2021 his dedication to freedom was put to the test when he stood up to then-Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) COVID restrictions. Though Northam had been succeeded by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), the Democrat’s appointees remained and had not relented in their efforts to put down anyone who stood against COVID tyranny.

Friday, Strickland live-streamed his interaction with law enforcement and agents of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) while they executed a warrant for records and any information that related to the possession and sale of alcoholic beverages at Gourmeltz.

“You’re shutting down a man’s livelihood for not following COVID mandates that didn’t do anything to prevent COVID,” he could be heard stating calmly to the authorities.

“It set our kids back so many years, these mandates,” Strickland went on. “It set small businesses back so many years. It destroyed small businesses. It destroyed ’em. It destroyed families. It destroyed our community. And it destroyed our country.”

The veteran further chastised authorities for “following orders” as he pointed out that doing so made them complicit and part of the problem.

As it happened, in February 2021, Gourmeltz was one of many businesses across the nation that had defied the diktats of overreaching government officials by not requiring patrons to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, according to The Center Square. As a result, his health permit was revoked and he was sued by the Virginia attorney general’s office.

Strickland recapped the main points in a video posted to Twitter.

The state had attempted to shut the business down entirely, but a judge denied the request and eventually, the Virginia AG dropped the charges and reissued the license, according to WUSA.

However, agencies persisted and as of September 2021 his beverage license was suspended and while ABC had issued a stay on enforcement, by November 2022, the Circuit Court of Spotsylvania County had ruled Gourmeltz had to cease alcohol sales for 90 days beginning Nov. 15.

“Despite administrative proceedings and the final order of the Circuit Court of Spotsylvania County affirming Virginia ABC’s decision to suspend Gourmeltz’s wine/beer on and off premises and mixed beverage licenses,” the ABC said in a statement, “the establishment failed to comply with ABC’s Board Order and continued to serve beer, wine and mixed beverages to customers.”

The agency was willing to cut the suspension to 15 days with more than $10,000 worth of fines to cover penalties and investigative costs, but Strickland refused to comply with the efforts of Northam-appointed ABC board members Maria Everett and Travis Hill.

“What the state of Virginia just did is they took my livelihood away from me right before Christmas,” the state Senate candidate told Fox 5 Monday before reporting, “I’m not concerned whatsoever.”

“I’ve been ready to die for my country since I was 17 years old, and I’m willing to fight as long and as hard as it takes to make sure that this fight that I’m in right now, this fight that we’re all in right now, doesn’t get passed down to the next generation,” Strickland expressed.

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Kevin Haggerty

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