Judge ruling allows San Diego strip clubs and restaurant businesses to remain open

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A judge’s ruling in the lawsuit filed by San Diego strip clubs may affect every restaurant business in San Diego County.

Judge Joel Wohlfeil ruled that Pacers and Cheetah’s can remain open despite Governor Newsom’s regional stay-at-home order. But, his ruling goes much farther than that.

In his ruling, the judge says the court, “questions whether there is a rational nexus between the percentage of ICU bed capacity throughout Southern California… and plaintiff’s establishments in San Diego County.”

The ruling continued reading, “Defendants on the other hand, have provided the court with no evidence that plaintiffs providing live adult entertainment, and San Diego businesses with restaurant service… who’ve implemented protocols as directed by the county, have impacted the Southern California region.”

And here is the important part, the judge ruled that “pending the trial of this case, defendants and any government entity or law enforcement officer are hereby enjoined from enforcing the provisions of the cease-and-desist order.”

Wohlfeil, who previously granted a similar temporary restraining order for Cheetahs Gentlemen’s Club and Pacers Showgirls International, wrote in his nine-page ruling that the state of California and San Diego County have not provided evidence tying the spread of COVID-19 or lack of intensive care unit bed capacity to live adult entertainment or businesses with restaurant service. The ruling says he “questions whether there is a rational nexus between the percentage of ICU bed capacity throughout Southern California… and plaintiff’s establishments in San Diego County.”

Judge Wohlfeil’s complete ruling can be read here.

The ruling comes after the clubs recently received cease-and-desist letters from the California Attorney General’s Office, which stated Cheetahs and Pacers were operating in violation of the Dec. 3 stay-at-home policy barring outdoor and indoor dining, as well as large gatherings.

Attorney Jason Sacuzzo, who represents Pacers, argued there hasn’t been a single case of COVID-19 transmission traced to either club since Wohlfeil issued the temporary restraining order in early November, a claim Wohlfeil referenced in his ruling.

Deputy Attorney General Patty Li, representing the state, argued Wednesday that the condition of the virus has changed since Wohlfeil’s initial ruling, citing increased COVID-19 case and death numbers, as well as a reduction in ICU capacity in the Southern California region, which she said was currently at 0.5%.

The ruling is at odds with another San Diego judge’s finding in a separate case that denied a request from local restaurants and gyms to reopen. A hearing on the request for a preliminary injunction in that case is slated for Friday afternoon.

In response San Diego County released a statement that read, “until we have clarity, we have suspended enforcement activities against restaurants and live entertainment establishments. With record numbers of new infections, deaths, and ICUs at capacity, we want to remind everyone to do your part.”

Supervisor Kristin Gaspar called into KUSI’s Good Evening San Diego shortly after the ruling to discuss what it means for our local business owners. She emphasized that we are on the brink of disaster, and this ruling at least brings “a little bit of hope” to people as attorney go through the details.

Categories: California News, Coronavirus, Health, Local San Diego News