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The Outdoor Dining Ban Will Stay In Place Until At Least February

Empty patio tables separated by plastic dividers adorned with American flags are seen at Mel's Drive-In in West Hollywood on Nov. 30, 2020. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
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An appeals court says the temporary ban on outdoor dining at restaurants in Los Angeles County can stay in place. The decision by a three-judge panel halts an early December ruling by Superior Court Judge James Chalfant.

That decision required the L.A. CountyDepartment of Public Health to provide evidence that outdoor dining causes an increase in COVID-19 transmissions if the agency wanted to extend the ban beyond its initial three-week period.

A full hearing on this issue is scheduled for Feb. 10.

The temporary outdoor dining ban went into effect on Nov. 25 and expired on Dec. 16. The following day, Dec. 17, L.A. County officials appealed Chalfant's decision.

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At that point, Chalfant's decision didn't change anything for local restaurants because in early December, the state had issued a stay-at-home order for Southern California. The state's order, which also included an outdoor dining ban, superseded the county's order.

This regional ban on outdoor dining, issued by the state, is also being challenged in the courts.

A restaurant worker in Los Angeles wears a face covering and gloves while handling takeout orders on April 5, 2020.

Angela Marsden, who owns Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill, recently filed a federal lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra seeking to overturn the state's ban.

Marsden posted a video on Instagram that went viral earlier this month of a TV production that had set up a craft service table next door to her Sherman Oaks bar.

The recent decision by the appeals court allows L.A. County public health officials to keep the outdoor dining ban in place for the immediate future — even if the regional stay-at-home order is lifted or overturned.

Yesterday, state officials extended the regional stay-at-home order for Southern California.

The Upshot: The soonest possible date Southern California restaurants might be able to legally allow outdoor dining is Feb. 10 — but this depends on how the hearing on that date goes.