Two bars that have repeatedly violated the temporary shutdown on indoor dine-in service because of COVID-19 now face losing their licenses for five years.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced it is stepping up the action it's taking against Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville and The Interchange in Albert Lea.
"Both establishments continue to sell or advertise the sale of alcohol for indoor, on-premises consumption in violation of the executive orders, and neither have come into compliance after numerous requests, notifications and court actions," the DPS said.
The pair had been threatened with a 60-day license suspension, and were warned this could be escalated if they continued to violate Gov. Tim Walz's executive order by opening for indoor food and drink sales.
On Thursday, a Dakota County District Judge granted a temporary injunction requiring Alibi Drinkery to close until the end of the executive order Jan. 10, but it opened to drinkers nonetheless Thursday morning.
As a result, the bar's owners could find themselves facing legal action for contempt of court.
The 60-day license suspensions previously announced against Alibi and The Interchange are awaiting administrative hearings, with the DPS now seeking a 5-year ban.
An investigator observed "numerous patrons eating and drinking" inside Alibi Thursday, which after it had posted on Facebook Wednesday that it would be reopening.
As for the Interchange, the DPS said it posted on its Facebook page that it was open for dine-in service on Dec. 21, 26, 28, and 29, and that on Dec. 30 and 31 it posted about a "New Year’s Eve Celebration" that would involve liquor sales, and was recommending people make reservations.
The Albert Lea Police Department also told the DPS that The Interchange has been open every day recently, except for Christmas Day.
A further six bars have been informed that they are now facing a 60-day license suspension. They are: