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Regional health board votes to lift license suspension of bar that broke COVID-19 rules by staying open

Havens Garden has remained open despite high levels of COVID-19 in the local area.
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Members of a regional health board in southwestern Minnesota have voted to lift the license suspension imposed on a bar that stayed open in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz's executive order.

Havens Garden in Lynd, Lyon County, has stayed open despite Gov. Walz's order in response to surging COVID-19 cases, which shuts down dine-in service at bars and restaurants till Dec. 18.

Last week, owner Larvita McFarquhar – who has posted several videos showing patrons drinking at her bar since the four-week ban went into effect – received a notice from Southwest Health and Human Services informing her that the bar's license had been revoked, but continued to serve customers despite this.

However, the Southwest Health and Human Services Community Health Board met on Wednesday, and voted to rescind the license suspension.

"I want to say thank you to Southwest Health and Human Services for voting to rescind the suspension of my license," McFarquhar posted on Facebook. "Thank you for standing on the constitution and doing what is right."

Southwest Health and Human Services confirmed to BMTN that the license suspension has been rescinded, but would not go into detail as to the reason why.

"SWHHS will continue to provide education and information with our community partners in relation to the Governor’s Executive Order and the COVID-19 pandemic," Public Health Director Carol Biren said.

The Southwest Health and Human Services Community Health Board is made up of representatives from each of the six counties it serves: Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood and Rock.

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BMTN reached out to several members to ask for more information as to why they voted to lift the license suspension but has yet to hear back.

There may be more action forthcoming however from the Office of Attorney General Keith Ellison, which confirmed to BMTN earlier this week that it was looking into the bar's situation.

On its website, Southwest Health and Human Services' public health section says among its responsibilities is to "prevent the spread of infectious disease."

Lyon County, where Havens Garden is located, has in recent weeks had one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the state of Minnesota.

There have been 2,535 total cases confirmed in the county since the start of the pandemic – representing almost 10% of its population of 25,474.

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