BREAKING: Judge Issues Tentative Stay to L.A. County Outdoor Dining Ban

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The California Restaurant Association and the owner of downtown Engine Co. No. 28 received an encouraging sign from a Los Angeles County judge. Fox11 LA reports that Judge James Chalfant granted a preliminary injunction in the CRA/Mark Geragos’ lawsuit against the L.A. County outdoor dining ban saying the County “acted arbitrarily” and “failed to perform the required risk-benefit analysis.”

“According to documents obtained by FOX 11’s Bill Melugin, Judge Chalfant wrote that L.A. County ‘could be expected to consider the economic cost of closing 30,000 restaurants, the impact to restaurant owners and their employees, and the psychological and emotional cost to a public tired of the pandemic.’ “

On December 2, Judge Chalfant requested L.A. County attorneys provide concrete medical evidence that showed COVID-19 transmission through outdoor dining. County lawyers failed to supply this evidence.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who vociferously called and voted for the ban on outdoor dining, claimed she had “six different studies” which supported the ban being put in place. According to correspondent Bill Melugnin, this evidence does not appear in the temporary ruling. Guess Kuehl was too busy getting her last lunch at Il Forno in order to submit this information to the County attorneys.

The 53-page decision, which is being cemented in a 1:30 p.m. (PST) hearing, further states that,

“The Department’s own data provide no support for the planned shutdown of outdoor restaurant operations. The data tracks all non-residential settings at which three or more laboratory confirmed COVID cases have been identified. Of the 204 locations on the list, fewer than 10% are restaurants. Of the 2,257 cases identified on the list, fewer than 5% originate from restaurants. […]”

Judge Chalfant dismissed the County’s argument as “arbitrary” that the increased cases are somehow tied to outdoor dining.

Sadly, this does not mean that outdoor dining will be restored. Governor Gavin Newsom’s Regional Stay-At-Home order for the state is still in place, at least until December 27. However, once this order is either overturned or is no longer enforced, outdoor dining can again be instituted for L.A. County.