California’s Health Secretary Concedes There Is No Empirical Basis for the State’s Ban on Outdoor Dining
This week a Los Angeles County judge ruled that a local ban on outdoor dining at restaurants, ostensibly aimed at reducing transmission of the COVID-19 virus, was “not grounded in science, evidence, or logic.” Around the same time, California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly admitted that the same thing is true of a state ban on outdoor dining that currently applies to all of Southern California, including Los Angeles County. Ghaly said that ban, which is one of many restrictions that are triggered when a region’s available ICU capacity drops below 15 percent, is “not a comment on the relative safety of outdoor dining” but is instead aimed at discouraging Californians from leaving home.
“The decision to include, among other sectors, outdoor dining and limiting that, turning to restaurants to deliver and provide takeout options instead, really has to do with the goal of trying to keep people at home,” Ghaly said during a briefing on Tuesday. He noted that “we have worked hard with that industry to create safer ways for outdoor dining to happen.”
The precautions include “keeping tables farther apart,” “ensuring masking happens as much as possible,” and maximizing air circulation. “All of those factors make sectors like outdoor dining lower risk,” Ghaly said. “But right now, with the levels of transmission that we’re seeing, we advise against anything that you can do in another way, in a lower-risk way, that avoids you either leav
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