A coalition of California lawmakers sent a letter to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Friday requesting that it halt COVID-19 enforcement against restaurants in light of two recent Southern California court decisions, including a Los Angeles judge’s decision to reverse a ban on outdoor dining in the county.
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.
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 Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant’s injunction earlier this month overturning the ban on 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.”
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