Outdoor seating extends into the street in La Jolla Shores. Photo by Chris Jennewein

A coalition of California lawmakers sent a letter Friday to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control requesting that it halt COVID-19 enforcement against restaurants in light of two recent Southern California court decisions, including this week’s injunction from a San Diego judge against enforcing pandemic orders upon the beleaguered dining industry.

The letter to ABC Director Eric Hirata alleges the agency has been conducting enforcement activities against “licensees who continue to operate responsibly during COVID-19” based on Business and Professions Code 25601, which typically is enforced against businesses that are endangering the public and/or disturbing the peace in the event of failing to prevent incidents such as fights, assaults or public drunkenness.

Assembly members Randy Voepel, R-Santee, and Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, were among the 16 lawmakers who co-signed the letter.

The letter says the law “was not intended to warrant enforcement on business operating responsibly, when there is no evidence their operation endangers the public.”

The lawmakers referenced a San Diego Superior Court judge’s Wednesday preliminary injunction ruling halting enforcement of COVID-19 shutdown orders against county restaurants and strip clubs.

It also cites a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge’s ruling earlier this month that overturned an injunction banning outdoor dining in L.A. County restaurants.

“Already an estimated 30% of California’s restaurants are at risk of closing permanently,” the letter reads. “To take arbitrary administrative action against restaurants now will only further damage the industry and destroy the jobs for the 1.4 million Californians who rely on their continued operation.”

— City News Service

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