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San Diego restaurants, gyms sue for right to operate indoors

Posted at 4:27 PM, Nov 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-14 19:27:18-05

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Four San Diego County restaurants and gyms that were forced to halt indoor operations beginning Saturday have filed a lawsuit seeking an emergency injunction to halt the shutdown.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of all restaurants and gyms came as 11 California counties, including San Diego, were forced to impose stricter limits on businesses after coronavirus cases rose above thresholds established by the state. Under the purple level of the state’s COVID-19 reopening system, restaurants, bars that serve food, gyms, churches and movie theaters will be limited to only outdoor operations.

The plaintiffs assert that the state and county orders interfere with their rights and violate the California Constitution, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. They are asking a judge to allow affected businesses to operate indoors under proper sanitation and social distancing protocols, a move they say will “redress the harms suffered by them without undermining the government’s legitimate interest in public health.”

Businesses have pushed back on the idea that restaurants and gyms are to blame for virus transmission, and health officials have said that small, casual gatherings at home where family and friends are not wearing masks or socially distancing are to blame for the latest surge.

In Northern California, restaurant owners worry the tighter restrictions could end their business as cold, rainy weather deters people from dining outdoors.

“What I’m mostly afraid of is that a lot of the restaurants that closed this time are not going to come back,” Patrick Mulvaney, owner of Mulvaney’s B&L in Sacramento, told KOVR-TV.

Still, officials in San Diego and Sacramento counties warned they will issue citations and possibly close businesses that violate the new restrictions. California surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases this week and recorded 9,875 cases on Friday.

A hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for Tuesday before a San Diego Superior Court judge