2nd Minnesota restaurant found in contempt of court for violating Walz order

The Interchange in Albert Lea was found in contempt of court by Freeborn County District Court.
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A second Minnesota restaurant owner has been found in contempt of court for remaining open for dine-in service in the face of Gov. Tim Walz's executive order that has banned such service at bars and restaurants since Nov. 17. 

While the order will expire this weekend and be replaced Monday with an order from Walz that allows indoor dining at 50% capacity, The Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro has been found in contempt of court by Freeborn County District Court and will be fined $3,000 for every day it continues to violate the governor's order. 

Earlier this week, Dakota County District Court ruled that a Lakeville bar – Alibi Drinkery – was in contempt of court for opening its doors for full indoor service. Alibi was slapped with the same $3,000/day fine, which is not retroactive for previous days violating the order. 

Both Alibi and The Interchange were first sued by the Attorney General's office in December and then hit with temporary restraining orders, followed by contempt of court rulings. 

The $3,000 a day fine is higher than what is recommended in civil contempt guidelines, KSTP reports. The court did this because it determined "a minimal fine wouldn't lead to compliance with the injunction and would likely result in further spread of COVID-19."

Lisa Hanson, owner of The Interchange, was at the State Capitol in St. Paul Jan. 5 protesting the shutdown. While there, she told Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) that she was faced with the decision to "either close permanently or I open up fully to see if I can survive this." 

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