Judge Says Strip Club Ruling Also Protects Restaurants
UPDATE: Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020
A California judge said Thursday that all restaurants in San Diego County can resume on-site dining with safety protocols, marking a setback to the governor’s stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil said his ruling Wednesday that also protected two strip clubs extended to the thousands of eateries in the county of 3 million people.
County officials had suspended enforcement of restrictions barring indoor and outdoor dining and live entertainment on Wednesday and requested the hearing to get clarification from the judge about the scope of his ruling.
The ruling came after two strip clubs, Cheetahs Gentlemen’s Club and Pacers Showgirls International, sued the county over an order in October to shut down. — Associated Press
A San Diego Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that the state and county are prohibited from enforcing California's regional stay-at-home order against two San Diego strip clubs.
Judge Joel R. Wohlfeil, who 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.
In response to the ruling, the county said it will "suspend enforcement activities against restaurants and live entertainment establishments" until it receives clarification.
Officials with the state and county did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The ruling comes after the clubs recently received cease-and-desist letters from the California Attorney General's Office, which stated Cheetahs and Pacers were operating in violation of the Dec. 3 stay-at-home policy barring outdoor and indoor dining, as well as large gatherings.
Attorney Jason Sacuzzo, who represents Pacers, argued there hasn't been a single case of COVID-19 transmission traced to either club since Wohlfeil issued the temporary restraining order in early November, a claim the judge referenced in his ruling.
Deputy Attorney General Patty Li, representing the state, argued Wednesday that the condition of the virus has changed since Wohlfeil's initial ruling, citing increased COVID-19 case and death numbers, as well as a reduction in ICU capacity in the Southern California region, which she said was currently at 0.5%.
The ruling is at odds with another San Diego judge's finding in a separate case that denied a request from local restaurants and gyms to reopen. A hearing on the request for a preliminary injunction in that case is slated for Friday afternoon.