Two more bars are facing enforcement action from Minnesota officials for defying COVID-19 rules.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on Tuesday announced it has suspended the food and beverage licenses of Patrick McGovern's Pub in St. Paul and Norm's Wayside in Buffalo. It also issued a cease-and-desist order to Norm's Wayside.
“We know most bars and restaurants are complying, and that’s evident when we look at the positive impact the executive order has had on the COVID-19 trends in Minnesota,” MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff said in a statement. “Daily cases numbers are leveling off and the pressure on our health systems has decreased.
"Bars and restaurants operating in violation jeopardize that progress and put their employees, customers and the surrounding community at risk for more COVID-19 transmission," Huff added.
According to MDH, on Dec. 28, 2020, it inspected Patrick McGovern's and found it was open for in-person dining in violation of Gov. Tim Walz's Executive Order 20-99. It also found that people were eating on the patio that has retractable walls and a ceiling that were closed, effectively making it an indoor patio.
The next day, on Dec. 29, 2020, it served the pub with a 60-day license suspension notice. MDH did not issue a cease-and-desist order because Patrick McGovern's closed the patio to become compliant.
In a Facebook post on Dec. 28, 2020, Patrick McGovern's said it was closing the patio area because there were too many restrictions to stay open, including having the roof fully open. And in a post on Jan. 2, the pub said it was temporarily discontinuing takeout, curbside and delivery.
MDH says it inspected Norm's Wayside in Buffalo on Dec. 26, 2020, and found it was open for indoor dining in violation of the governor's order. It also found employees were working without masks, which violates Executive Order 20-81.
MDH on Dec. 30, 2020, issued a cease-and-desist and license suspension notice.
It doesn't appear the restaurant has publicly commented on MDH's recent actions. However, Norm's Wayside hasn't been supportive of Gov. Walz. Facebook posts dating back to November show a sign outside the restaurant that reads "Gov Walz is a dick wad."
In recent weeks, several bars and restaurants across the state have been faced with action by the state for defying Gov. Walz's executive orders by reopening, including license suspensions, lawsuits and court actions.
State officials say taking enforcement actions against restaurants and bars is a last resort after it's clear educating the establishment on the rules isn't sufficient in helping them come into compliance with the executive orders.
Walz on Wednesday afternoon will announce loosened restrictions on indoor dining in the state. Exact details on what that will entail are forthcoming.