MDH to ramp up enforcement of bars violating COVID-19 protocols

The state received over a hundred complaints about violations this week.
Bar beer

Minnesota health officials fighting the coronavirus pandemic are now paying close attention to the state's bars and restaurants.

That's because of a rise in reports of such establishments violating the state's COVID-19 safety protocols.

In a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) press briefing on Friday, Commissioner Jan Malcom said that the agency received 120 complaints "from concerned Minnesotans" about bar and restaurant violations this week.

Malcom said most of the violations involved employees not wearing masks, though tipsters also reported bars allowing too many people to gather indoors and not leaving enough space between tables, among other issues related to "lack of social distancing and protection protocols."

She added that MDH would be stepping up enforcement of COVID-19 safety rules, but emphasized that it's "not to play gotcha with restaurants and bars."

The extra enforcement, she said, is about protecting "both the customers and staff in these establishments, and frankly to increase our chances of keeping the spread of COVID (at a) low enough level that we can avoid pretty drastic dial-backs in what establishments are open and how they can operate."

She also pointed out that, despite the influx of violation reports, "very many operators and establishments are working hard to do the right thing." 

This came the same day that Minneapolis announced it's been receiving complaints about "customers not wearing masks inside of businesses," triggering an enforcement sweep of bars in the downtown, Uptown and Dinkytown areas, per FOX 9.

The station says the city will issue citations to three establishments, which have not been identified.

On Monday, Andy Slavitt, a former Obama Administration health official, announced that he had advised Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to reverse the state's relaxed rules on restaurants and shut down dine-in service again. 

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