A San Diego judge has ruled that two local strip clubs can stay open, despite an explosion in Covid cases in California that has forced authorities to severely restrict “non-essential” activities.
Judge Joel Wohlfeil of the San Diego County Superior Court went further in his preliminary injunction, saying that all “businesses with restaurant service” are exempt from health restrictions imposed by the state.
Currently, restaurants are limited to take-out service only, and people from different households are technically prohibited from gathering.
Pacers Showgirls International and Cheetahs Gentlemen’s Club had filed suit asking to be allowed to continue operations while taking measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Performers would be masked, dance on stage solo and observe physical distancing, among other precautions.
Such establishments, as well as restaurants, “provide sustenance to and enliven the spirits of the community, while providing employers and employees with means to put food on the table and secure shelter,” Wohlfeil wrote in his decision Wednesday.
The judge said authorities had not provided evidence that the businesses “present any risk… to the spread of COVID” or that they “have impacted ICU bed capacity.”
ICUs in the region were filled to 99 to 100 percent capacity on Thursday, with some 300 patients in intensive care units in San Diego County alone.
San Diego authorities said they were considering an appeal.
“The state and the county are analyzing the scope of the ruling and discussing next steps, which includes seeking clarity from the court,” San Diego County said on Twitter.
“Until we have clarity, we have suspended enforcement activities against restaurants and live entertainment establishments.”
According to local media, some restaurants had already taken the opportunity to reopen their doors on Thursday.
In the past seven days, California has recorded more than 250,000 new cases of coronavirus, or more than 90 cases per 100,000 people.
© Agence France-Presse