State seeks to halt order reopening San Diego restaurants

Lawyers for the state asked a San Diego appeals court Friday for a stay of a Superior Court judge’s ruling that allowed restaurants and live entertainment venues in the county to reopen, citing “critical public health issues at stake” during the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Moran writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.