Restaurant owners reeling as court sides with Newsom, blocks judge’s order allowing indoor dining

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Following a pressure campaign from Gov. Gavin Newsom, on Friday a three-judge panel of California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal blocked a lower court’s order that had allowed restaurants in San Diego County to reopen for indoor and outdoor dining despite violating the governor’s orders.

The panel offered no explanation for the authoritarian decision.

The decision came two days after San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil issued an injunction blocking local and state officials from keeping all restaurants in San Diego County closed. The ruling was made in response to a lawsuit filed by two strip clubs earlier in the fall.

Back in early November, Wohlfeil issued a temporary injunction against cease-and-desist orders against the strip clubs that had been issued by county officials. His ruling Wednesday essentially extended the injunction to the state level and added “San Diego County businesses with restaurant service” to it as well.

“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,” he reportedly wrote in Wednesday’s ruling.

Immediately following the ruling, county officials requested an emergency hearing for clarification on what he’d meant by “San Diego County businesses with restaurant service,” as reported by local public broadcasting station KPBS.

In a subsequent hearing Thursday, Wohlfeil clarified that he meant ALL restaurants.

“The court’s intention is that all businesses which provide restaurant service, meaning all restaurants in the county of San Diego, are encompassed within the scope of the court’s order,” he said.

Listen:

However, the following day state officials decided to intervene in the matter by filing their own emergency motion.

“In the midst of the worst surge in the COVID-19 pandemic … a single trial court judge has unilaterally thwarted public efforts to avert that looming catastrophe, by issuing an injunction that allows all restaurants in San Diego County to reopen without any restriction, contrary to the orders and judgment of the State’s top health officials,” Newsom’s lawyers reportedly complained in the motion.

They also slammed Wohlfeil for including all restaurants in the county as part of his order, describing it as “a clear abuse of discretion.”

“This unsolicited order against enforcement of basic public health precautions necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, at a moment when hospitals in San Diego County and across the state are being overwhelmed, requires immediate action by this court,” they wrote.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal apparently agreed and issued its ruling “almost immediately” after the motion was filed, according to ABC News,” and “gave no explanation” for its decision, despite the impact the decision is slated to have on hundreds of business establishments like the ones seen below:

Thanks to the court’s ruling, one local business owner who’d reopened three of his venues Friday and eagerly brought back his employees, was forced to turn around and send them back home again. He wasn’t alone.

“A number of San Diego County restaurants, buoyed by the lower court’s ruling on Wednesday, had reopened their venues for indoor and outdoor dining, only to learn late Friday that their good news was short-lived,” The San Diego Union-Tribune notes.

The only good news is that local businesses have until next Wednesday to reportedly “respond,” though it’s not clear what exactly that means.

California businesses, including restaurants, have suffered devastating losses amid the coronavirus pandemic because of the draconian rules imposed by Newsom. They are arguably the most severe rules in the country. Only in California, for instance, are both indoor and outdoor dining banned.

A report by Time Out magazine published in October revealed that 27 high-profile restaurants in Los Angeles alone had permanently closed.

Similar trends have been seen in other Democrat-controlled states like New York City, where the 36-year-old Gotham Bar & Grill was forced to close:

 

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A post shared by Gotham Bar and Grill (@gothamnewyork)

What has only exacerbated the pain though has been the hypocrisy of Democrat officials like Newsom, who was caught dining last month without a mask or social distancing in a “closed-off room” that was ostensibly outdoors but certainly didn’t look that way.

Observe:

Newsom’s hypocrisy and lack of empathy for suffering business owners eventually led to his constituents launching a recall effort that has thus far been highly successful.

Vivek Saxena

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