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LA's Health Department Must Show Evidence — In Court — To Support Its Outdoor Dining Ban

An empty plate. (<A HREF="">Richard Bell/Unsplash</A>)
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A judge today told Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health it must provide evidence about COVID-19 transmission that would justify its ban on outdoor dining at restaurants.

Superior Court Judge James Chalfant, however, refused to issue an order that would immediately lift the ban. He said he first wanted to review scientific research, reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

The county's health department imposed the ban on Nov. 25 to combat the rising number of coronavirus cases. The County Board of Supervisors debated the order last week but ultimately voted 3-2 to keep it intact.

The California Restaurant Association and attorney Mark Geragos, who also owns downtown L.A. power lunch spot Engine Co. No. 28, have challenged the ban.

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In a statement on Twitter, CRA president Jot Condie said:

"As we've repeatedly said, their order was arbitrary and targeted restaurants unfairly, without supporting evidence. This ruling doesn’t mean that outdoor dining can immediately resume in LA County, particularly since the county has since issued a stay-at-home order. However, it's our expectation that if the county is unable to produce evidence justifying this decision, then outdoor dining should be allowed to resume as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted."

The three-week outdoor dining ban has been contentious from the start and several cities are so upset about it, they're threatening to start their own health departments.

At a hearing scheduled for next Tuesday, Dec. 8, the county must present scientific evidence justifying its ban on in-person dining.

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