“You have to do a risk-benefit analysis for public health. You don’t just talk about the risk of spreading disease. You have to talk about the benefit of keeping restaurants open,” Chalfant said.

Chalfant expressed some skepticism about the ban. Based on the studies he has reviewed, the risk of spreading the coronavirus from outdoor dining appears minimal, he said.

But the county should have a chance to “answer those questions and fill those holes,” the judge said.

Chalfant also asked county officials to explain why the ban was keyed to the five-day average of new coronavirus cases hitting 4,000.