By Christina Hager

MARLBORO (CBS) – The owner of a Marlboro arcade who was fined for allegedly breaking pandemic guidelines is speaking out. Robert Walker owns Apex Entertainment. He says the rules in Massachusetts don’t make sense, and they are killing businesses.

“You can go to a casino, and the state can share in their revenue stream, but we can’t open our arcade,” he said.

Last week the WBZ I-Team reported the state Department of Labor Standards issued a cease and desist order against Apex for allowing customers to use its gaming machines. The company was also issued hundreds of dollars in fines.

Walker appealed, but was denied.

Under Massachusetts’ reopening plan, arcades are part of Phase 4, which means they won’t be allowed to open until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.

“That makes no practical sense,” Walker told WBZ on Monday. “We’re not the only business included in his order not to reopen. How do we pay our bills? How does that business survive? How do we pay our utilities when the PPP money runs out? How do we even get back to our staff members who are desperately looking to get back to work so they can pay their mortgage?”

Walker is part of a group of businesses and organizations suing Governor Baker. The case, set to go before the state’s highest court in September, argues that Baker never had the authority to shut businesses down, or force pandemic restrictions on places like Apex.

“The governor decided, ‘I’m going make this an unlawful business,’” said Mike DeGrendis, an attorney with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, which filed the lawsuit. “What if there never is a treatment or vaccine?”

A restaurant Walker owns nearby is also under scrutiny. A former server at Evviva Trattoria said she was told to serve customers indoors, before indoor dining was allowed in Massachusetts. The town of Marlboro also received a handful of complaints, including a bartender not wearing a mask, and seating too many people to a table.

Marlboro’s health inspector found no violations during his inspections.

“We take this very seriously,” said Walker. “Knock wood, we haven’t had any illnesses in our businesses, so I think we’re doing something right here. We’re doing the best we can, given the situation.”

Christina Hager

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