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Minnesota sues 2 bars, revokes license of another for staying open despite COVID shutdown

Bars in Lynd and East Grand Forks are now being sued by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Two bars that have stayed open in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz's COVID-19 shutdown are being sued by the State of Minnesota, while a third has had its license revoked for alleged repeated breaches of COVID-19 safety measures, AND staying open despite the shutdown.

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Friday evening that it has filed lawsuits, with the aid of the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, against Havens Garden in Lynd, Lyons County, and Boardwalk Bar and Grill in East Grand Forks.

A third restaurant, the Iron Waffle outside Nisswa, has had its license revoked and is facing a $9,500 fine for its alleged "history of non-compliance" of the governor's COVID-19 rules, which follows "multiple complaints" alleging violations of the requirement that employees wear face masks.

BMTN has reported about both Havens Garden and the Boardwalk Bar and Grill this week, with the owners deciding to open the doors to customers despite the four-week shutdown implemented by the governor last month, which doesn't expire till Dec. 18.

Havens Garden owner Larvita McFarquhar had argued that the shutdown was unconstitutional, and continued to serve customers even after having her license revoked by Southwest Health and Human Services, only for this to be rescinded by a vote of the regional health body's board.

MDH serve Havens Garden with a cease and desist order on Wednesday, and is now seeking a court-ordered injunction requiring it to close.

A cease and desist order was served on the Boardwalk Bar and Grill on Thursday, only for the restaurant to publicly say "that it planned to remain open to the public for on-premises dining."

Ellison has filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting it from remaining open, which was granted by the Polk County District Court Friday afternoon.

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Of the Iron Waffle, MDH says its staff have "tried to work with the business operators to inform them of the requirements and bring them into compliance."

"When those efforts failed, MDH issued a cease and desist order on August 6," it said. "The establishment closed briefly and then reopened in non-compliance."

MDH issued an "Administrative Penalty Order" on Sept. 24, to which the restaurant didn't respond. As a result, MDH sent a notice informing the restaurant it is now facing a penalty of $9,500, and it would have its license revoked if it didn't come into compliance with the COVID-19 safety measures.

"MDH staff inspected the establishment on December 5 and found it was allowing on-site consumption in violation of Executive Order 20-99," it said. "The department revoked the facility’s license on December 9, with the $9,500 penalty still due."

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