Minnesota regulators cite more bars, restaurants for violating Walz order

Minnesota regulators on Saturday told three more establishments that they face 60-day liquor license suspensions for continuing indoor, in-person bar and restaurant service in violation of state pandemic rules.

The Interchange in Albert Lea, Cornerstone Cafe in Monticello and The Pour House in Clarks Grove have joined a growing list of bars and restaurants that have ignored Gov. Tim Walz's executive order aimed and slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Others facing similar suspensions are Boardwalk Bar and Grill in East Grand Forks, Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville, Mission Tavern in Merrifield and Neighbors on the Rum in Princeton.

“We’re asking the small percentage of bars and restaurants that have opened for inside dining and drinking to stop and comply with the executive order,” Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said in a news release. “Thousands of our neighbors have died from COVID-19 in Minnesota. That should be enough of a reminder that the health of our communities has to come first. Bars and restaurants that don’t abide by the law will face the consequences of their actions.”

All of the businesses cited for violating the order will have hearings before an administrative law judge. They could be looking at five-year liquor license suspensions for additional violations of the closure order.

In addition to the liquor license suspensions by the Department of Public Safety, the Attorney General's office and the state Department of Health also have taken action against some businesses that have continued to operate in violation of the executive order.

Last week Walz extended his executive order through Jan. 10. While it does now allow limited outdoor, in-person dining, it continues a ban on indoor service.

Some small-business owners in Minnesota say they are being singled out while barely scraping by, and say the latest order during the busiest time of the year could shut them down for good.

State health officials on Sunday reported 2,705 new cases of COVID-19 and 70 more deaths due to complications from the virus. The deaths, which included 45 people in long-term care facilities, lifted the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota to 4,850.

More than 397,000 positive tests have been reported since the start of the pandemic.

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