Two California strip clubs were given the approval by a judge to remain open as long as the environment is safe for dancers and their patrons. The decision came after California Governor Gavin Newsom's regional stay-at-home order that prompted businesses to temporarily shut down, CBS News reported.
The ruling by San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil's on Wednesday also extended beyond the two strip clubs, Pacers and Cheetah’s, and also applied to "San Diego County businesses with restaurant services," that abide by health and safety protocols that ”are no greater than essential" to controlling the spread of COVID-19.
In October, Midway Venutre LLC, which owns Pacers, and Entertainment Group Inc., which owns Cheetah’s, filed a lawsuit against the state after they were ordered to close. The latest ruling was a win for both establishments.
On Nov. 6, Wohlfeil had issued a temporary injunction allowing the clubs to remain open. His latest ruling extended that while the suit brought by the clubs against the orders continues. In that earlier ruling, Wohlfeil sided with the clubs, which argued that live adult dancing has been recognized as constitutionally protected free speech by courts, and said the restrictions posed an “irreparable harm” to the businesses, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The judge noted that Pacers International Showgirls and Cheetahs Gentlemen's Club operated for five weeks during the pandemic under their own safety measures, which included keeping strippers 15 feet from tables, allowing no more than one stripper per stage and requiring them and other employees to wear masks, CBS News reported.
Steve Hoffman, an attorney for Cheetahs, said he was "very pleased" with the ruling and had no comment on whether it extended to other strip clubs and restaurants.
"Cheetahs and Pacers will continue to operate in a manner that takes all appropriate and essential measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while at the same time providing a means for their staff to earn a livelihood," he wrote in an email CBS News reported.
Jason Saccuzzo, the lawyer for Pacers, said he was happy with the ruling, adding that if it applied to other businesses that was fine.
The ruling went into effect immediately.
"While we are disappointed in the court's decision today, we remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting the health and safety of all Californians," Newsom's office said in statement, CBS reported.
Michael Workman, a spokesman for San Diego County, said county attorneys were meeting "to decipher the ruling and determine what's next. Stay tuned."
In the meantime, San Diego County did say it would pause on enforcing restaurant enclosures until further notice.