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Appeals court issues stay, halting judge’s order reopening San Diego County restaurants

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra
(Associated Press )

Restaurants and live entertainment venues in San Diego County must shut again after lawyers for the state asked an appeals court Friday for a stay of a Superior Court judge’s ruling that allowed the businesses to reopen, citing “critical public health issues at stake” during the surging COVID-19 pandemic. The 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego issued the stay just before 5 p.m.

The filing by California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s office argues that the order from Judge Joel Wohlfeil, issued Wednesday, was an overreaching of his authority and imperils the health of county residents because it undercuts public health orders aimed at mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

Wohlfeil’s ruling, which went into effect immediately, came in a lawsuit filed by owners of two San Diego strip clubs who challenged the orders that largely shuttered their businesses. The judge took the step of not only siding with the clubs and prohibiting the state from enforcing the restrictions, but applying that order to all restaurants in the county — even though no restaurants were involved in the lawsuit.

Lawyers for the state argued that to include restaurants that were not part of the case before him was “a clear abuse of discretion” by Wohlfeil.

“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,” lawyers wrote.

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Moran writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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