The State of Minnesota has suspended the license of two bars that opened Wednesday in defiance of the COVID-19 dine-in shutdown, while another is facing a license suspension for opening this past Friday.
Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville and Neighbors on the Rum in Princeton have been served with 60-day liquor license suspensions for "blatantly violating" Gov. Walz's executive order, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DPS-AGED).
Alibi in particular has sparked controversy after Star Tribune pictures emerged showing large crowds of maskless drinkers in attendance as it opened its doors Wednesday, with staff members also pictured not wearing face masks.
For both Alibi and Neighbors on the Rum, the DPS said that it has "documented evidence that these establishments have opened for on-premises consumption of food and alcoholic beverages," including police reports and media pictures.
Their license suspensions are effective pending an administrative hearing.
Another bar facing a license suspension is Mission Tavern in Crow Wing County, which was served with a cease and desist order after it opened on Nov. 25, and was then found to be in compliance.
However, it opened again this past Friday and is now facing a license suspension and $10,000 fine.
Both Alibi and Neighbors on the Rum were among the businesses that signed up to a ReOpen Minnesota Coalition pledge to open their doors on Wednesday or later this week.
The DPS said it visited several other establishments that were included on the list Wednesday – Pizza Depot, Becker; Andy’s Sports Bar, Red Wing; Carbone’s, Cottage Grove; and Charley’s, Mankato – and found them all to be closed.
Attorney General Keith Ellison said that despite the coalition's list containing 150 businesses – some anonymous – that were planning to open or pledging their support, only a "small handful" actually went through with it Wednesday.
It found that 40% of those named on the list were legally allowed to open anyway, and of those remaining, 60 were bars and restaurants.
Of those, 20 told the AG's Office that they're actually complying with the shutdown order, and the AG's Office is still investigating some of the remainder.
"In only a handful of instances thus far has the AG's Office determined that an establishment is openly or defiantly violating Executive Order 20-99," Ellison said.
Minnesota's Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said: "Most bars and restaurants are playing by the rules and following the law. Those that have chosen not to comply are putting the health of the community at risk, and we will hold them accountable."
Gov. Walz announced Wednesday that restaurants will be allowed to reopen for outdoor service on Saturday, but the indoor service ban has been extended to Jan. 10.