Fight to halt LA dine-in ban isn’t over, restaurateurs vow

Business

The California Restaurant Association says its fight against Los Angeles County’s dine-in ban isn’t over even after an initial request to block the measure was denied by a judge.

“The CRA’s next move is in Los Angeles Superior Court next week,” the association tweeted Wednesday just before the ban against any indoor or outdoor service was slated to take effect for three weeks. The rule would allow only take-out, drive-through and delivery services.

The Superior Court judge who rejected CRA’s request to halt the three-week ban until local health officials provided scientific proof linking the activity to an increase in COVID-19 cases has said he would reconsider hearings on the matter if restaurateurs provided new evidence, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The restaurant association had hoped that the county would refrain from issuing any order or guidance banning outdoor dining until evidence was provided that it posed a risk, according to filings obtained by Fox News.

The group accuses Los Angeles County of relying on a “questionable national study” rather than local data to determine that establishments — which are already reeling from the pandemic — should be shut down again, according to a video posted on YouTube.

The association pointed to a recent board of supervisors meeting where a health official suggested there was no hard scientific evidence linking the recent surge in cases to outdoor dining to back up the move.

Dr. Muntu Davis said restaurant-specific data was scarce and that a CDC study targeting 11 different outpatient health care facilities in 10 states was the “best information we have.” The study found that those patients with COVID-19 were twice as likely to have dined out at a restaurant.

Davis said “as a public health department we have to look at the highest risks, and where we can reduce those risks” adding that restaurants fit the high-risk category.

The restaurant operators, however, argued that county data showed that restaurants only account for 3% of COVID-19 cases.

Their concerns mirror that of other local officials who fear that establishments may not survive another shutdown.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who serves residents of LA County’s 5th Supervisorial District, opposed the measure, saying it would “further devastate local businesses and employees who have been asked to shoulder an unfair burden this year.”

LA County officials had previously warned that the restrictions might be imposed if the five-day average of new cases in the county climbed above 4,000 or hospitalizations reached more than 1,750 per day.

On Sunday, officials reported the five-day average was 4,097 and there were 1,401 hospitalizations.

Authorities said the purpose of the ban is to help “reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposures in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings.”