A Los Angeles judge wants to get an outdoor dining ban down to a science, literally.
Running a restaurant in the pandemic may not be rocket science, but Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant wants to at least be shown scientific evidence that justifies an outdoor dining ban that the county enforced last week.
The ban came amid surging coronavirus cases in the county, but the California Restaurant Association filed suit to stop restaurants from using an outdoor option that helped keep businesses operating. County public health officials will have to show scientific evidence and a strain on the healthcare system in Chalfant’s court Tuesday in order to maintain the outdoor dining ban.
“You have to do a risk-benefit analysis for public health,” Chalfant said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You don’t just talk about the risk of spreading disease. You have to talk about the benefit of keeping restaurants open.”
Chalfant said he has read studies that suggest outdoor dining creates a minimal risk of spreading coronavirus and asked for reasoning as to why Los Angeles County differs from the state allowance for outdoor dining.
The Los Angeles Times said county attorney Amnon Siegel said in court that outdoor dining carries inherent risks, “because you cannot wear your mask and you are not distancing.”
A longtime downtown restaurant, Engine Co. No. 28, also filed a similar suit.
The restaurants’ suits are simultaneously a bit of a subtle flex, taunting the rest of the country that outdoor dining in December is even possible as most of the country heads for freezing temperatures.