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Could a New Strip Club Ruling Allow Restaurants to Resume On-Site Dining?

There’s a lot of confusion around a new court decision

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Yesterday, a San Diego County Superior Court judge ruled that two local strip clubs, Cheetah’s and Pacers, are permitted to remain open despite the Southern California region being under restrictions related to the latest stay-at-home order. The allowance could also apply to restaurants; judge Joel Wohlfeil’s injunction says it extends to “San Diego County businesses with restaurant service”, writing, “These business establishments provide sustenance to and enliven the spirits of the community, while providing employers and employees with means to put food on the table and secure shelter, clothing, medical care, education and, of course, peace of mind for they and their families.”

The new ruling comes after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent the two strip clubs a cease-and-desist letter last week for continuing to operate ever since the county-wide order was enacted in early December.

Last night, the County of San Diego posted a response to the judge’s ruling that read, in part: “The state and the county are analyzing the scope of the ruling and discussing next steps, which includes seeking clarity from the court. Until we have clarity, we have suspended enforcement activities against restaurants and live entertainment establishments.”

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Eater spoke with several local restaurant owners who are still waiting for clarity from the county on whether or not restaurants are free to resume on-site dining; however, they all expressed caution against reopening immediately, saying that it would be devastating to reopen and be shut down again.

UPDATE Thursday, 12/17: The judge in this case confirmed today that his ruling extends to includes restaurants, saying “All business that provide restaurant service are encompassed within the court order.” Some restaurants have already begun to reopen for both indoor and outdoor dining, although NBC7 reports that the state is expected to appeal the court decision.

UPDATE Friday, 12/18: At 5 p.m. today, the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego issued a stay of Wohlfeil’s ruling, which means that any restaurants that restarted on-site dining must shut it down again.

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