If you own a small business, you know that government regulations can have a major impact on your success, or failure. In times of emergency, the ability of bureaucrats to write arbitrary rules that can decapitate your business increases. In LA County, the Department of Public Health and Board of Supervisors shut down outdoor dining, despite the lack of any science suggesting outdoor dining was contributing to the spread of COVID-19. Eater Los Angeles reports on Judge James Chalfant’s rebuke of the bureaucrats:
Los Angeles County officials suffered a legal setback today in county Superior Court, with Judge James Chalfant issuing a tentative decision that says, in part, county officials at the LA Department of Public Health and Board of Supervisors “acted arbitrarily” when deciding to close outdoor dining back on November 25. Fox 11’s Bill Melugin was the first to share the tentative decision; a more formal potential injunction is likely to be announced this afternoon.
So what does this new legal announcement really mean? A few things:
First and foremost, this does not mean that restaurants under the purview of the LA County Department of Public Health (which is every restaurant in the county except for those in Pasadena and Long Beach proper) can open today for on-site outdoor dining. The state’s regional stay at home order, set forth on Sunday at midnight as area ICU bed capacity continued to fall to alarming levels, still supersedes any regional decision.
The judgement does say that County officials have a specific duty to “perform the required risk-benefit analysis” when making decisions about things like restaurant closures. Per Melugin:
The judge writes that L.A. County “could be expected to consider the economic cost of closing 30,000 restaurants, the impact to restaurant owners and their employees, and the psychological and emotional cost to a public tired of the pandemic.”
Furthermore, the decision against the County specifically says that officials cannot shut down the restaurant sector indefinitely, and so has set a current cap for the modified public health order’s action against restaurants for December 16. Again, owners will not be allowed to reopen in the county for on-site outdoor dining until the state’s stay-at-home order is lifted, but barring further challenges in court (which are likely) it seems that when that state order is lifted, on-site dining would be allowed to resume.
Action Line: If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, or even if you work for a small business, take a good hard look at how your politicians are using their expanded COVID-19 powers. Are they working to find ways to keep businesses alive during the pandemic, or are they treating business as the enemy?
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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