Many states are tightening restrictions on individuals and businesses in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions, we are told, are rooted in science. Except when they aren’t.

A California judge ruled Los Angeles County’s outdoor dining ban was not rooted in data or science:

The [Health Department] made a decision to close restaurant dining that is not realistically designed to halt the spread of COVID. The Department proceeded without, and in excess of its discretion, and failed to give the [restaurant association] a fair hearing, and prejudicially abused its discretion.

But don’t take it from a state judge. The state’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Mark Ghaly, said the restrictions were about control, not science:

“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 leaving your home or…leaving your home in a way that…cause[s] you to mix with others.”

In other words, it was to make dining out such a hassle, people would stay home. Unless folks happen to want to go to the mall, make a movie, or hit the tanning salon. In those, and many other cases, enjoy (but wear a mask).