Minnesota bar defied governor's shutdown, had license suspended, is still open

Havens Garden owner Larvita McFarquhar argues the shutdown is unconstitutional.

A bar in southwestern Minnesota has stayed open in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz's latest executive order, even after having its license suspended.

Havens Garden in Lynd, southwest of Marshall in Lyon County, continues to serve food and drink, and host live music, despite having its license suspended by Southwest Health and Human Services last Wednesday, Dec. 2.

Two days later, owner Larvita McFarquhar streamed video live on Facebook from her business showing several customers drinking at the bar.

And on Tuesday evening, she confirmed in a message to Bring Me The News that she is still open "Monday-Thursday 10:30am-3 and Friday from 8pm-11 with live music and food."

The only visit she's had from any authorities since losing her license was a deputy last Thursday, who said he'd "received a complaint saying we are selling food without a license and that he had to come out and write a report."

The four-week "pause" announced by Gov. Tim Walz last month requires bars and restaurants to cease dine-in service until Dec. 18, with the move taken amid surging COVID-19 cases in the state, and with crowded bars considered to be a source of transmission.

Lyon County has one of the highest COVID-19 rates in the state, with 20% or more of its tests for the virus positive each week between Nov. 8 and Nov. 28.

McFarquhar's stance has attracted attention from, among others, Fox Business, with the single mother-of-two interviewed by the TV channel this past weekend.

She told Fox she considers the governor's orders to be unconstitutional, and that she is taking a stand to teacher her daughters "that America is great."

“It doesn’t matter who’s the leader, who’s in power,” she said. “Our Constitution is for the people… Everywhere we go that’s what we have, the Constitution, to protect us. And if we don’t take a stand now, who will?"

On Twitter, she posted that the governor's executive orders "are ruining small businesses and destroying lives."

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Despite her claim on Twitter that "mandates are not laws," the governor's executive order is enforceable and she is now risking the prospect of stricter action being taken by local and state authorities.

On Tuesday, the office of Attorney General Keith Ellison confirmed to BMTN that it is "working with local health officials on this case."

Earlier this month, the AG's office obtained a court injunction requiring a gym in southeastern Minnesota to shut down after it stayed open despite the executive order.

Businesses that violate the executive order may face fines of up to $25,000 plus costs for each occurrence.

And McFarquhar may face further punishment if she's prosecuted for operating with a suspended license, 

This video, taken before she received notice that her license had been suspended, also shows a large number of customers in her bar on Nov. 28, 

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