California County Superior Court Judge: Officials ‘acted arbitrarily’ shutting down outdoor dining

LOS ANGELES, CA Los Angeles County is facing legal pushback over its decision last month to prohibit outdoor dining at restaurants, with Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruling that restaurants cannot be shut down indefinitely and that health officials and the Board of Supervisors “acted arbitrarily” when issuing the order.

 Judge Chalfant wrote that the county’s ban ‘is an abuse of the [Health] Department’s emergency powers, [and] is not grounded in science, evidence, or logic,” and that “the average healthy American is not seriously at risk of dying.”  He added that the county has “seized on a straw.”

More from his decision:

“A significant number of restaurants will shutter their doors completely as they will be uncertain as to the future.  By failing to weigh the benefits of an outdoor dining restriction against its costs, the County acted arbitrarily and its decision lacks a rational relationship to a legitimate end.”

The judge’s decision does not necessarily mean that outdoor or indoor dining is suddenly back in the picture, though, according to the website LA Eater:

“First and foremost, this does not mean that restaurants under the purview of the LA County Department of Public Health (which is every restaurant in the county except for those in Pasadena and Long Beach proper) can open today for on-site outdoor dining.

LA Eater said the state’s regional stay-at-home order supersedes any regional ruling. The stay-at-home order was set in place Sunday at midnight as area ICU bed capacity continued to fall to alarming levels.

LA Eater continued:

“The judgment does say that County officials have a specific duty to ‘perform the required risk-benefit analysis’ when making decisions about things like restaurant closures.

“The judge writes that L.A. County ‘could be expected to consider the economic cost of closing 30,000 restaurants, the impact to restaurant owners and their employees, and the psychological and emotional cost to a public tired of the pandemic.’”

There is now a two-tier qualifier for reopening restaurants. The judge’s decision said that officials cannot shut down the restaurant sector indefinitely and set a cap for the modified public health order’s action against restaurants for December 16, but outdoor dining will not resume until the state’s stay-at-home order is lifted.

More from LA Eater:

“Overall, Judge Chalfant says that more data and/or a stronger argument from the county is needed in court to support any future ban of on-site outdoor dining of indeterminate length.

The county’s argument that restaurants are higher-risk spaces because people gather, unmasked, and spread COVID via expelled droplets, Chalfant says, ‘only weakly supports closure of outdoor restaurant dining because it ignores the outdoor nature of the activity, which the CDC says carries only a moderate risk (and less with mitigations).”

LA Eater also reported that, despite the orders, “some [restaurants] are staying open in defiance of the public health order, others are protesting in front of the homes of politicians or pushing for an industry-wide rent strike.”

The stay-at-home order issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom has drawn major criticism and attacks from those in the public sector and is not just restricted to the restaurant industry.

The order is based on a 15% “threshold” of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) availability and would pose automatic lockdowns for those areas where hospitals hit the magic number.

The policy, dubbed the “Regional Stay Home Order,” will go into effect within 48 hours in regions with less than 15% Intensive Care Unit (ICU) availability.

It prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others.

As part of Governor Newsom’s announcement, he indicated that the San Francisco Bay Area would likely not meet that threshold and would be impacted immediately, and that the Southern California region, which includes San Diego County, could reach the 15% threshold in a matter of days.

The order will remain in effect for at least three weeks and, after that period, will be lifted when a region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%. This will be assessed on a weekly basis after the initial three-week period.

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Sheriff eviscerates Governor Gavin Newsom in viral holiday message, calls him a dictator and a hypocrite

December 6, 2020

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA- California Gov. Gavin Newsom was eviscerated by a Southern California sheriff this past week, who slammed the out-of-control governor for what he called his “extremely hypocritical” behavior during the coronavirus pandemic and his “dictatorial attitude” toward residents of the state.

Sheriff Chad Bianco of Riverside County sharply criticized Newsom in a recorded message, in particular criticizing Newsom for threatening to without funding from counties who didn’t comply with his dictates.

 

“We have all recently learned of the new regional approach to combating COVID-19 and the pending closure and stay-at-home orders from our governor,” Bianco said.

“We were also told that there was a potential he would be withholding federal and state funding from counties who did not enforce the orders.

Ironically, it wasn’t that long ago our same governor loudly and publicly argued how wrong it was for the President of the United States to withhold federal funding from states not complying with federal laws.”

Bianco appeared to be referring to threats from President Donald Trump to withhold federal funds from states and cities which implemented so-called “sanctuary” policies.

This is where they refused to cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, and Customs and Border Patrol. These agencies of course investigate primarily immigration violations.

The difference of course between what President Trump vowed to do and what Newsom is attempting to do is that in the case of the president, these are laws that have actually been legislated and passed into law. In Newsom’s case, he’s talking about his arbitrary dictates made on a whim with no basis in either science or law.

Bianco continued:

“The dictatorial attitude toward California residents while dining in luxury, traveling, keeping his business open and sending his kids to in-person private schools is very telling about his attitude toward California residents, his feelings about the virus, and it is extremely hypocritical,” he said.

“These closures and stay-at-home orders are flat-out ridiculous. The metrics used for closures are unbelievably faulty and are not representative of true numbers and are disastrous for Riverside County. When the medical field is so split about this virus, it might be time to employ a little common sense.”

Bianco was referring in part to Newsom being snagged eating dinner at The French Laundry, an upscale restaurant in Napa Valley where he was caught on camera violating his own mandates, including the number of people in his party, the lack of social distancing, and nobody wearing masks.

According to the Daily Mail, Newsom had ordered wineries in 19 California counties to close back in July, however exempted Napa County, where he owns a winery, PlumpJack Estate Winery. Hypocrisy thy name is Gavin Newsom.  

Also in October, Politico reported that Newsom had sent his children back to in-person learning at a private school in Sacramento County, even while a majority of schools in the state remained shuttered and limited to in-home learning due to COVID-19.

It’s no wonder Bianco was so fired up. He went on:

“Keeping money and support from our hospitals who are struggling with normal seasonal increases in patients, coupled with COVID-19 patients, is irresponsible,” he said.

 “It appears part of the new goal is to shift attention away from his and other’s personal behavior with a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude by turning public opinion against California Sheriffs.

He is expecting us to arrest anyone violating these orders, cite them, and take their money, close their businesses, make them stay in their homes, and take away their civil liberties or he will punish all of us.

I believe that all jobs are essential to someone. Leaders do not threaten, attempt to intimidate, or cause fear; bullies do.”

Bianco continued:

“As has been our position from the beginning of this pandemic, the Sheriff’s Department is asking and expecting Riverside County residents to act responsibly and do what they can to protect themselves and their family from contracting the virus,” he concluded.

“Wear your mask and practice social distancing. While the Governor’s office and the state has threatened action against violators, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will not be blackmailed, bulled or used as muscle against Riverside County residents in the enforcement of the Governor’s orders.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a safe and happy New Year.”

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Author: James E. Lewis

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