After being forced to shut down his business for months during the COVID-19 lockdown and losing tens of thousands of dollars in revenue as a result, Washington, D.C., restaurant owner Eric Flannery is now at risk of losing his livelihood for good because of the city’s draconian restrictions.

Flannery, co-owner of The Big Board, a burger joint and bar on Capitol Hill’s H Street, has openly resisted Mayor Muriel Bowser’s mask and vaccine mandates, arguing that it is not his job to police the actions of every person who walks into his bar. The city responded by slapping him with multiple fines, revoking his liquor license, and sending a D.C. Health Department inspector who was tasked with finding as many code violations unrelated to the COVID-19 mandates as possible. By Feb. 1, The Big Board was told to shut its doors “until further notice.”

“The establishment is ordered closed until further notice for a violation(s) of the District of Columbia food code regulations (Title 25 of the DCMR), which presents an imminent health hazard(s) to the public,” read a notice from the city’s Division of Food.

There is no question The Big Board was targeted deliberately. On the list of restaurants that received warnings or fines for COVID-19 mandate violations, The Big Board is one of the only establishments that appears multiple times. That’s not a coincidence. City officials knew Flannery didn’t intend to enforce the vaccine mandate — he said as much on Twitter — and decided to make an example of him.

The city’s punitive response is just as senseless as its vaccine mandate. Multiple studies prove the COVID-19 vaccines are not effective at preventing transmission of the dominant omicron variant, which means the virus can still spread in restaurants, gyms, and other indoor venues regardless of how many people inside are vaccinated. This mandate will not stop the spread of the virus, and it certainly won’t stop people from contracting it.

Neither will Washington’s mask mandate. In fact, the city’s positive cases skyrocketed during the Christmas season despite the fact that it had had a mask mandate in place for months. Clearly, masks were, and still are, virtually useless against omicron.

So what’s the point? It’s simple: This is about control. Notice how on the list of restaurants that violated the city’s COVID-19 orders, the vast majority was written up because patrons weren’t wearing masks inside. All it takes is a bit of common sense to understand that there is no way a business with a limited number of employees will be able to control the behavior of every guest who walks through its doors at all times. But that’s exactly what Bowser wants: a citizenry forced into compliance by the society it participates in.

The Big Board is right not to tolerate Washington’s police-state behavior anymore.

“I’m not a government agent, and quite frankly, it’s not my job to check your personal medical history for you to come in. I trust you, I believe in you, just how I have all of these years,” Flannery said during a recent interview. “I’m not a medical doctor. I don’t have any opinions on the vaccine. You should talk with your medical doctor and make an informed decision on your own and decide that.”

“We know we’re right,” he added. “We know we’re doing the right thing.”

If only more businesses in Washington had The Big Board’s courage.

Kaylee McGhee White is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner and a visiting fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.