San Diego Court Denies Restraining Order To Halt Prohibition On Indoor Operations

November 23, 2020

A San Diego Court today denied a temporary emergency order request asking to halt the prohibition on indoor operations that would have had major implications for restaurants and other businesses around the entire county. 

Following California's movement of San Diego County into the state's most restrictive purple tier, four San Diego plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court against the state and San Diego County challenging the constitutionality of the ban on indoor business operations at restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, fitness centers, churches, museums, zoos and aquariums. Plaintiffs include Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop, Home & Away Encinitas, Fit Athletic Club and Bear Republic Crossfit in downtown San Diego. The lawsuit, which alleged that the state and county orders interfere with business's protected rights and violate the California State Constitution, sought an emergency injunction that if approved would have ended the required shutdown on indoor operations. 

Today, San Diego Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Medel denied the emergency injunction, upholding the ban on indoor operations. Medel cited public safety for his reason for denying the restraining order request. A court hearing on the merits of the underlying lawsuit is expected to be scheduled within the next 30 days. Had the judge granted the temporary restraining order requested by the plaintiff businesses, all restaurants and gyms would have been allowed to resume indoor operations despite San Diego County's current status in California's purple tier of restrictions. 

Attorneys for the four San Diego plaintiffs argued last week at a nearly 2-hour hearing that penalizing certain business sectors was misguided and arbitrary, stating they are not the main source for outbreak increases. Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Eisenberg, representing the state, argued that allowing restaurants and gyms to continue operating indoors was a "matter of life and death". In the complaint, businesses allege they may be forced to close permanently if the ban on indoor operations persist. Eisenberg acknowledge the economic hardship of the forced restrictions but claimed "the balance of harms here is overwhelmingly in favor of keeping these restrictions in place."

This is a developing story. We will update this post as we learn more.