LA’s outdoor dining ban stands despite judge’s harsh rebuke

State stay-at-home order means county restaurants must remain closed for dining

Gov. Gavin Newsom (Getty, iStock)
Gov. Gavin Newsom (Getty, iStock)

A judge’s decision to overturn Los Angeles County’s outdoor dining ban has no practical effect because of the state’s current stay-at-home order.

Tuesday’s ruling by L.A. County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant was a strong rebuke. As part of a 53-page written decision, he said the county’s “own data provide no support for the planned shutdown of outdoor restaurant operations.”

Despite the scathing words, the ruling will not change the suspension on dining in the county, according to the Los Angeles Times. That’s because California’s Covid order — which limits restaurants to takeout only — supersedes the county measure.

The state-level order took effect in L.A. County and surrounding counties over the weekend. It kicks in when any region of the state records intensive care unit bed availability below 15 percent.

Barely 10 percent of ICU beds in the state-designated Southern California region, which stretches as far north as Mono County, are available.

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Chalfant said if the county wants to extend its ban on outdoor dining beyond the state order, it will have to conduct a risk-benefit analysis.

“The issue here is, is shutting down outdoor dining going to help in any significant way, or is it just something to do?” Chalfant said at a court hearing Tuesday.

He also said the order “is an abuse of the [county health department’s] emergency power.”

The county’s outdooring dining ban was harshly criticized by businesses and restaurant representatives, along with some local elected officials. The city of Pasadena broke with the county and allowed outdoor dining, but ultimately shut it down because of the state order.

Several other types of businesses and activities are barred under the state order, including hair salons and breweries. Residents are asked to keep both public and private gatherings to a minimum. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch