Two Anchorage restaurants, Kriner’s Diner and Litter Dipper, both remained open on Saturday, Aug. 8, amid growing sanctions from Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s administration.
The diners have become a rallying point for local residents who are fed up with increasingly burdensome COVID-19 mandates that have crippled area businesses.
Despite ongoing $600 a day fines and legal pressure from the Anchorage Municipality, these family-owned and operated diners have dug in against a mayor they believe has overstepped his rightful authority.
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Kriner’s Diner was again packed to the gills on Aug. 8 with enthusiastic customers who lined up outside the restaurant at 9 a.m. for a chance to support a business that many residents see as ground zero in a stand for freedom amid COVID-19 restrictions. Across town, Little Dippers followed suit. Customers continued to offer cash donations to owner Andy Kriner so he could pay municipal fines and stay open.
Some customers drove more than 100 miles just to show their support and eat at the defiant diners.
On Friday a District Court judge ordered Kriner’s Diner to close. Their refused has put pressure on Mayor Berkowitz and his effort to halt all indoor dining across the city.
The mayor did not intervene on Saturday, but it remains to be seen how long these establishments will be able to hold out against an administration bent on keeping them closed.
The mayor’s 15th emergency order imposes limits on most outdoor gatherings and restricts bars and nightclubs to takeout or delivery. Restaurants and breweries are banned from indoor service and bingo halls and theaters must close completely. Churches can’t accommodate more than 15 congregants.
Berkowitz has blasted those who oppose his emergency orders, accusing them of politicizing COVID-19 and claiming that his mandates are necessary to keep Anchorage safe from what he calls a “lethal” virus. As of Aug. 8, the city of 290,000 residents had just 24 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Two of those are on ventilators. Hospital capacity includes 111 available non-ICU beds, 31 ICU beds and 127 available ventilators in addition to 25 pediatric ventilators. Over the past five months, Anchorage has recorded 14 COVID-19 related deaths.