An attorney representing Key West business owners Danny and Maura Hughes on Monday, June 1 filed a cease-and-desist letter with the City of Key West and Monroe County, claiming the “onerous” regulations governing the operation of restaurants and other businesses go too far and were enacted without proper legal authority.

Attorney Michael Levin sent separate letters to the city and the county, claiming the Key West City Commission — not the city manager and the mayor — has the authority to enact such operational regulations. 

“We are providing you with notice that State of Local Emergency Directive 2020-13: Use of Facial Coverings and Required Health Screenings for All Businesses,” issued May 29, 2020, is improper, unenforceable and contrary to Florida law,” the letter states. 

Danny Hughes, who owns Two Friends Patio Restaurant, told the Weekly, “The City of Key West has been guilty of overreach, according to our attorneys. They shut businesses down without adequate notice. They pick winners and losers, and they bastardize the governor’s orders. The mayor dictates regulations by fiat instead of under the guidelines of the City Charter and State Law.  This [cease and desist] letter is the first step in getting our city government to begin to operate in accordance with the law.”

Hughes told the Weekly he wants the city of Key West and Monroe County “to just operate within the guidelines of government. Follow the governor’s order and don’t use this as an excuse to grab power.”

In his letter to Monroe County Attorney Bob Shillinger, Levin writes that directives issued by the county’s emergency management director do not comply with the state’s Administrative Procedure Act, and are thus invalid and improper.

City and county officials had not commented on pending litigation as of 3 p.m. Monday. 

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