Restaurants fighting Los Angeles County’s outdoor dining ban appear to have gained traction after a judge ruled the county must prove why the ban was warranted.
On November 22, the county’s public health department announced that in-person dining would be shut down at restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars. The order took effect on November 25 at 10 p.m., right before Thanksgiving. The order is supposed to last for a minimum of three weeks. It applies to all restaurants in Los Angeles County except for Pasadena, which has its own public health department and decided not to follow the order.
Soon after, the California Restaurant Association (CRA) filed a lawsuit to overturn the ban. On November 24, prior to the ban taking effect, the organization asked the judge for a restraining order to prevent it from occurring. The request was denied, but the lawsuit still moved forward.
But now, according to an order from L.A. Superior Court Judge James Chalfant, the county’s public health department must provide evidence as to why the ban was ordered.
“An order to show cause means that Los Angeles County, which has banned outdoor dining at restaurants, must finally step forward and show evidence linking outdoor dining to the ongoing rise in coronavirus cases,” said CRA CEO Jot Condie in a statement. “As we’ve repeatedly said, their order was arbitrary and targeted restaurants unfairly, without supporting evidence.”
Condie noted that the decision doesn’t mean outdoor dining will quickly resume. Since the outdoor dining ban, L.A. County issued a stay-at-home order that took effect Monday and will last through December 20. The City of L.A. issued practically the same order on Wednesday, which prohibits in-person dining.
“Our City is now close to a devastating tipping point, beyond which the number of hospitalized patients would start to overwhelm our hospital system, in turn risking needless suffering and death,” said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “These unfortunate facts about the spread of COVID-19 in our City mean that we must resume some of the more restrictive measures we instituted in the Spring.”
Another hearing is scheduled on Tuesday for attorneys representing the L.A. County public health department to provide medical justification for the outdoor ban. Condie said the CRA expects that if the county can’t produce evidence, then outdoor dining will resume as soon as the stay-at-home orders are lifted.
On Wednesday, L.A. County reported a record 2,439 hospitalizations. Of that amount, 24 percent are in the ICU. The public health department said the average daily number of hospitalizations has increased 94 percent in two weeks. In addition, 40 deaths and 5,987 new cases were reported. The average daily number of cases has increased 225 percent since early November.