State Watch

Judge: LA officials acted arbitrarily in banning outdoor dining

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A Los Angeles judge ruled Tuesday that the county’s ban on outdoor dining was arbitrarily imposed, though the decision won’t automatically reopen service.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled California’s most populous county “failed to perform the required risk-benefit analysis” before implementing the regulation and “by failing to weigh the benefits of an outdoor dining restriction against its costs … acted arbitrarily and its decision lacks a rational relationship to a legitimate end.”

An afternoon hearing is set to discuss Chalfant’s tentative ruling, according to City News Service.

While county officials have demonstrated that the virus is “burdening the health care system and action is necessary,” their position that the virus can spread through unmakes dining “only weakly supports the closure of outdoor restaurant dining, because it ignores the outdoor nature of the activity, which the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] says carries only a moderate risk, and less with mitigations,” he wrote.

However, Chalfant wrote that his ruling does not mean outdoor dining in the county can immediately resume due to the state’s ongoing stay-at-home order, which applies until at least Dec. 27, while the county’s was in place for a three-week period ending Dec. 16. The county will only be authorized to extend its own rule “after conducting an appropriate risk-benefit analysis,” he wrote.

The California Restaurant Association along with celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, who owns the Engine Co. No. 28 restaurant, had challenged the Nov. 24 ban.

“The recent order with no stated scientific basis from LA County singles out a specific industry and could jeopardize thousands of jobs,” association president and CEO Jot Condie said in a statement upon filing the suit. “There are thousands of restaurants and many thousands more employees who could be out on the street right before the holiday season.”

The Hill has reached out to the California Restaurant Association for comment.

Tags California Coronavirus Los Angeles

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