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Appeals court freezes strip club ruling, closing San Diego restaurants again

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Posted at 5:38 PM, Dec 18, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — An appeals court Friday granted a stay against a San Diego judge's recent ruling allowing strip clubs and restaurants to reopen despite the state's coronavirus restrictions.

The decision by the Fourth District Court of Appeals, District One, freezes an earlier ruling, forcing restaurants to again only offer takeout and delivery service, per California's recent health order. Any opposition to the state's filing must be submitted by noon Wednesday.

Lawyers for the state argued against the Superior Court ruling, saying it was overreach since no restaurants were parties in the suit filed by two strip club operators.

RELATED: San Diego County to appeal ruling on strip clubs, restaurants amid health orders

County Supervisor Jim Desmond said in a statement the decision one day after some restaurants reopened was "tragic."

"Today's decision to close restaurants one day after they were allowed to open is tragic for San Diego's workforce. The seesawing of people's livelihoods one week before Christmas is devastating," Desmond said in a statement.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said in his own statement that the appeals court made the right call as cases surge.

"This is the right decision to protect our communities given the severity of cases and hospitalizations we are experiencing in San Diego County. Everyone should stay home unless it is absolutely essential," Fletcher said.

This week, a judge ruled in favor of Pacers Showgirls and Cheetahs Gentleman's Club, which were forced to close in October due to coronavirus restrictions. The ruling was in response to a preliminary injunction granted to the clubs in November that protected them from some enforcement.

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That ruling protected strip clubs and "San Diego County businesses with restaurant service."

"The court’s intention is that all businesses which provide restaurant service — meaning all restaurants in the County of San Diego — are encompassed in the scope of the court’s order. It’s not limited to plaintiffs who also provide restaurant service, but it is intended to encompass all restaurants within the County of San Diego,” said San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel R. Wohlfeil.

The county's Board of Supervisors voted Friday to appeal the ruling but said the county would only argue against the provisions that allow strip clubs to operate and indoor dining amid California's regional stay-at-home order.

"The Board voted to appeal the order. But the Board directed County Counsel to only argue that the order is incorrect as it relates to the continued operation of strip clubs and the allowance of indoor dining. We support outdoor dining with appropriate safety protocols that have been previously established. We remind everyone that the virus is still out there. Please continue to cover your face, wash your hands and avoid gatherings," Chairman Greg Cox said in a statement.

The recent restaurant closures come after the regional dipped under the state's ICU bed capacity threshold. The Southern California region, which includes San Diego County, hit 0% capacity on Thursday and sat at that availability on Friday.

Friday, San Diego County set a record for daily coronavirus cases, reporting 3,611 new cases.