MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As a number of relaxed COVID-19 regulations went into effect for some Minnesota businesses Saturday, more penalties are being handed down to a number of restaurants for allowing indoor dining in defiance of the executive order.
The nix on indoor dining is one of the restrictions that remains in effect for the ensuing weeks.
On Saturday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's alcohol and gambling enforcement division says it notified three restaurants they face a 60-day suspension on their liquor licenses for violating Gov. Tim Walz's executive order restricting indoor dining.
The three restaurants in question are Cornerstone in Monticello, The Interchange in Albert Lea, and The Pour House in Clarks Grove.
The Minnesota Department of Health on Friday announced it had issued cease-and-desist orders to The Pizza Depot in Becker and to Hooligans Lakeside in Lake Park.
"COVID-19 protocols are designed to slow the spread of this virus and reduce the impacts of this pandemic," MDH assistant commissioner Dan Huff said. "Our preference is always to work with business to bring them into compliance, and we consider regulatory actions as a last resort. The vast majority of businesses are doing their best to help slow down the spread of COVID-19, and we owe it to them to have a consistent and fair enforcement approach."
Meanwhile, the Dakota County District Court granted a temporary restraining order against Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville. The restaurant is one of five that have sued by Attorney General Keith Ellison for defying Gov. Tim Walz's halt on indoor dining. Footage taken inside Alibi Drinkery earlier this week showed the restaurant filled with people, many of them not wearing masks. The other four restaurants that have had suits filed against them are Cornerstone Café in Monticello, Cork in Anoka, Neighbors on the Rum in Princeton, and Boardwalk Bar and Grill in East Grand Forks
"I'm gratified the court recognizes the severity of the pandemic and the need to take urgent action to stop the spread of COVID-19. I'm equally gratified that the vast majority of Minnesota bars and restaurants are already complying with their responsibility to keep their customers, employees, and communities safe. The very few that aren't complying are simply prolonging the pandemic and the pain it's caused all of us," Ellison said.
If Alibi Drinkery remains open for indoor dining, it risks being found in contempt of court. The Dakota County District Court scheduled a hearing on the matter Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 10 a.m.
Aside from Alibi Drinkery, the DPS has also issued a notice of liquor license suspension to Boardwalk Bar & Grill in East Grand Forks, Mission Tavern in Merrifield, and Neighbors on the Rum in Princeton.
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