In the latest round of the battle over coronavirus regulations, Los Angeles County health officials may restrict outdoor dining if Covid case counts rise.
That was the ruling from a state appeals court, which reversed an L.A. County Superior Court decision from December, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The lower court had compelled the county to conduct a risk-benefit analysis before seeking to extend its ban on outdoor dining. That decision had no practical implications at the time because California’s stay-at-home order superseded the local ban on outdoor dining. Superior Court Judge James Chalfant at the time wrote that the county ban was “an abuse” of emergency powers.
The recent decision, however, ruled that county health officials were correct in their action.
“We now hold that courts should be extremely deferential to public health authorities, particularly during a pandemic and particularly where, as here, the public health authorities have demonstrated a rational basis for their actions,” Justice Brian Currey wrote in his March 1 opinion.
The case stems from two lawsuits filed in November, one by the California Restaurant Association and the other by the Downtown L.A. restaurant, Engine Co. No. 28. Both filings sought to strike down the outdoor dining ban.
Attorney Mark Geragos, who owns Engine Co. No. 28, is representing both parties. He is also representing a Sherman Oaks restaurant owner in her lawsuit against the state’s outdoor dining ban.
L.A. County isn’t backing down. A week after lifting its ban on outdoor dining in January, the county sued two restaurants that they allege violated the rules, and directing them to show they have complied with the measures.
[LAT] — Dennis Lynch