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San Diego County suspending COVID-19 restaurant closure enforcement following court ruling

Posted at 8:02 PM, Dec 16, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego County is suspending enforcement of restaurant closures following a Wednesday court ruling.

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.” At a hearing on Thursday, Wohlfeil said his ruling encompasses all restaurants, not just strip clubs.

In November, the county fell into the state’s purple tier, forcing eateries to cease indoor operations. Later in the year, restaurants were cornered into only offering delivery and takeout service.

The order, effective immediately, still requires businesses to adhere to COVID safety protocols.

RELATED: San Diego County suspends shutdown enforcement against restaurants, strip clubs

Following the ruling, authorities issued a statement saying, in part: “We have suspended enforcement activities against restaurants and live entertainment establishments.”

Read the full statement below:

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.

Supervisor Jim Desmond also issued a statement after the ruling.

RELATED: New COVID-19 stay-at-home order takes effect in San Diego County

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.

Wednesday’s ruling is effective pending the trial in the case brought by Midway Ventures and F-12, the owners of Pacers Showgirls and Cheetahs Gentleman's Club against the County of San Diego and state in October over COVID-19 restrictions that forced them to close.

A preliminary injunction was granted to the strip clubs on Nov. 6 protecting them from any enforcement, though the businesses must comply with rules surrounding a 10 p.m. curfew and close early.