A lawsuit over California’s ban on outdoor dining and wine tasting was dismissed without prejudice after the state lifted its stay-home order this week, but the group of wineries and restaurants behind the lawsuit said they’re ready to file the suit again if the state puts another ban in place.
Business owners behind that group, The Wine Country Coalition for Safe Reopening, “scrambled” to reopen their outdoor dining and wine tasting areas after the state lifted the order on Monday. Cynthia Ariosta of Pizzeria Tra Vigne in St. Helena, said getting employees back to work was the “first order of business.”
“All of us are dedicated to protecting our employees’ and customers’ health and welfare, and the investments we had already made to our outdoor dining areas fortunately allowed us to reopen quickly and safely,” she said in a written statement. “We are just gratified that we can return to our work and to serving our communities.”
Business owners say they’re ready to file another lawsuit if California adds another outdoor dining ban.
California put new regional COVID-19 restrictions in place in December as new cases surged and patients filled hospitals. Those new restrictions included a ban on outdoor dining and wine tasting – activities the coalition said are safer than other indoor retail businesses that were allowed to continue operating.
Restaurants were still allowed to provide services like curbside pickup, takeaway and delivery. But the members of the coalition – more than 50 businesses in Napa and Sonomoa counties – filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s public health officer, alleging the ban was “arbitrary, irrational and unfair.”
Business owners behind The Wine Country Coalition for Safe Reopening “scrambled” to reopen their outdoor dining and wine tasting areas after the state lifted the order on Monday. (iStock)
Just six days later, the state ended the stay-home order. Mark Ghaly, the state Health and Human Services secretary, said in a statement that “California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been hoping for.”
The state’s efforts appear to have worked. After hitting a peak of more than 46,000 new COVID-19 cases reported on Dec. 18, new cases in California have been trending downward since mid-January, Johns Hopkins University data show. Still, there were more than 20,000 new cases reported in the state on Wednesday.
California put new regional COVID-19 restrictions in place in December as new cases surged and patients filled hospitals. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File, Pool)
California officials said they hope they don’t need “to resort to such strict measures to keep our health care system protect and to save lives” again. But they didn’t rule out the possibility.
Carl Dene, owner of Sam’s General Store in Calistoga, said the coalition is ready to file another lawsuit if the state enacts another ban on outdoor dining and wine tasting.
“We support all efforts to limit the spread of COVID, but there is simply no data that shows outdoor dining and wine tasting contribute to the spread, so we are happy to see the governor following the science,” he said.