San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil ruled Wednesday that two San Diego strip clubs are still exempt from statewide lockdowns.
Wohlfeil issued a preliminary injunction that appears to extend past the strip clubs and include “businesses with restaurant service.”
“The Court emphasizes that the reach of the preliminary injunction is limited to 1) Plaintiffs providing live adult entertainment; and 2) San Diego County businesses with restaurant service, such as Plaintiffs’ establishments, providing restaurant service, subject to protocols that are no greater than is essential to further Defendants’ response to control the spread of COVID.”
The pair of strip clubs – Pacers Showgirls and Cheetah’s– sued the county, its public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health after they received a cease and desist order in October that ordered the clubs closed. (RELATED: Celebrity Chef Andrew Gruel Blasts California’s Lockdown Rules)
Wohlfeil noted that both clubs had enacted their own safety protocols that forces strippers to maintain a 15-foot-distance from customers and only lets one stripper on stage at a time. Dancers and employees are also required to wear masks.
Wohlfeil said that the county’s cease and desist letters and closure orders to businesses including entertainment centers, restaurants, gyms and other businesses “does little, if anything, to demonstrate any nexus between businesses with restaurant service…who’ve implemented protocols as directed by the County, and the spread of COVID.”
Co-owner of Waterfront Bar & Grill Chad Cline said he was hopeful that Wohlfeil’s order would allow him to reopen, according to Fox News.
“It kind of says that restaurants can reopen, but the caveat there may be that someone has to be stripping, which seems so wild to me,” he said, according to the report. “If that’s what it takes for us to reopen our business – taking off our clothes – I’ll do it.”
San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond appeared to interpret the ruling to exempt restaurants from enforcement, according to a tweet.
“BREAKING: A judge just ruled that he could not find a connection between resturant (sic) services and the spread of COVID. He has directed the county to allow businesses with resturant (sic) services to operate their business safely and responsibly.”
BREAKING: A judge just ruled that he could not find a connection between resturant services and the spread of COVID. He has directed the county to allow businesses with resturant services to operate their business safely and responsibly.
— Supervisor Jim Desmond (@jim_desmond) December 17, 2020
Spokesman for San Diego County, Michael Workman, said the county was working to “decipher the ruling and determine what’s next,” according to Fox 5 San Diego.
Desmond also noted that the ruling does not mean that safety protocols will be ignored, according to the report.
“We still have a virus to fight, our numbers are still going up, our ICU beds – we are hanging in there, but we need to get that number down so we have to make sure we’re doing this safely,” he said.