Borrego Sun - Since 1949

San Diego County to Not Enforce Restaurant Closures

Judge Directs County to Allow Reopening of Restaurants, Live Entertainment Establishments


Last updated 12/31/2020 at 12:33am

In a turn of events, a San Diego County Superior Judge has ruled on Dec. 16 to suspend the enforcement of activities against restaurants and live entertainment establishments, effective immediately.

Superior Court Judge Joel R. Wohlfeil issued an injunction prohibiting a cease-and-desist order from being enforced on strip clubs and "San Diego County businesses with restaurant service.”

Wohlfeil previously granted a similar temporary restraining order for Cheetahs Gentlemen's Club and Pacers Showgirls International, wrote in his nine-page ruling that the state of California and San Diego County have not provided evidence tying the spread of COVID-19 or lack of intensive care unit bed capacity to live adult entertainment or businesses with restaurant service.

Wohlfeil's ruling also applied to "San Diego County businesses with restaurant service," though it was unclear exactly what businesses that portion of the ruling would apply to. Businesses are still required to adhere to COVID safety protocols.

The court order also offers protection to restaurants prompting the county to suspend enforcement of the state's COVID-19 public safety policy on barring indoor-outdoor dining. After the county fell into the purple tier in November, many establishments were forced to close, but after falling into harsher restrictions, restaurants were forced to do takeout and delivery only.

Following the ruling, authorities issued a statement saying, "The State and the County are analyzing the scope of the ruling and discussing next steps which includes seeking clarity from the court. Until we have clarity, we have suspended enforcement activities against restaurants and live entertainment establishments. With record numbers of new infections, deaths, and ICUs at capacity, we want to remind everyone to do your part. Please don't gather, socially distance, wear a face covering, and wash your hands."

County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond issued a statement after the ruling.

"A judge just ruled restaurants can open! Effective immediately, the County will not be enforcing restaurant closures. I hope it’s not too late for the many restaurants hanging on. The County will not be enforcing restaurant closures. Thank you to the business owners and their workers for their courage. How this all plays out, that remains to be seen?"

"The judge also did not find a proven connection between the spread of COVID and “a wide array of business and other activities including gyms, fitness center, yoga studios, bars, restaurants, spas, fraternities and sororities, religious entities and entertainment centers.”"

"However, this ruling only applies to those who provide restaurant services. We assume the State will appeal and my colleagues voted to appeal along with the State. Supervisor Kristin Gaspar and I voted to not appeal their decision."

"Let's remember, new case numbers are going up. We need to abide by all the safety protocols. Continue to wear masks, social distance, and follow all the protocols. We believe that businesses should be allowed to safely open."

District 4 Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that the majority of the board doesn't view strip clubs as essential and "felt that was consistent with common sense."

"I’m guessing most folks aren’t going there with all the members of their household, so you have multiple households interacting together in a high-risk setting and so we ordered them closed," Fletcher said.