festival organizers sue Ohio Dept of Health director over coronavirus shutdown
Organizers of two Ohio music festivals, Bellwether Music Festival and The Country Fest, are suing former Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton, and two Ohio county health departments, over the enforcement of a ban on concerts and live events amid the coronavirus pandemic, ABC9 WCPO reports. Festival organizers are joined in their suit by an anti-tax activist and "concert-goer," Mark Miller, both with the allegation that their first amendment rights are being violated by the ban.
The lawsuit claims that festivals can be compared to the ongoing protests against police brutality, racism, and the murder of George Floyd, and that it isn't fair that they are able to occur while the festivals can't.
"There is no difference," the suit reads, "between a large crowd gathering in the downtown of a large Ohio city to hear speech from speakers versus a large crowd gathering at Renaissance Park or Clay’s Park Resort (or at other venues) to hear speech in the form of music and other entertainment."
"Yet, Amy Acton has, through her decrees and actions, explicitly allowed and condoned the former while prohibiting outright the latter," it continues. "Furthermore, Amy Acton has decreed and permitted amusement parks (including King’s Island and Cedar Point) to open and operate wherein musical performances also take place and are allowed to occur."
The suit also claims that predictions of increased COVID-19 cases never happened, despite warnings to the contrary, and the stay-at-home orders given by the state were unnecessary.
"At no time during the past three months has (a) hospital or medical provider, in the State of Ohio or elsewhere in the United States, been unable to have a ventilator or other medical equipment when needed to treat a person infected with COVID-19," the suit reads. "And the baseless and ad hoc nature by which the decrees of Amy Acton and the restrictions on constitutional rights effectuated therein can be seen further in other pronouncement and actions of Amy Acton and/or Governor DeWine."
Meanwhile, Dr. Acton has resigned, effective immediately, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced on Thursday, as Cleveland.com reports. She said the decision was "something I’ve been struggling over the last couple of months," and said that as Ohio begins to reopen, "I think there is a sort of natural shift that is occurring here that makes it sort of a good time so I can refocus."
In related news, Coronavirus cases have increased in at least 21 states since stay at home orders have been lifted, The Associated Press reports.