Minnesota officials have notified three restaurants that they face a 60-day suspension of their liquor licenses for violating the governor’s coronavirus restrictions on indoor dining.
The Department of Public Safety’s alcohol and gambling enforcement division notified the establishments on Saturday that they would face a hearing before a judge, after which their license may be reinstated.
The Cornerstone Café, The Interchange and The Pour House were all observed serving customers indoors in violation of Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order, the Star Tribune reported. The Cornerstone is in Monticello, The Interchange is in Albert Lea, and The Pour House is in Clarks Grove.
“COVID-19 protocols are designed to slow the spread of this virus and reduce the impacts of this pandemic,” said Minnesota Department of Health assistant commissioner Dan Huff. “Our preference is always to work with business to bring them into compliance, and we consider regulatory actions as a last resort.”
“The vast majority of businesses are doing their best to help slow down the spread of COVID-19, and we owe it to them to have a consistent and fair enforcement approach.”
The health department aannounced Friday that it had issued cease-and-desist orders to The Pizza Depot in Becker and Hooligans Lakeside in Lake Park, WCCO TV reported.
Four other establishments have already faced the similar suspensions, with the threat of a full five-year suspension if found in violation again.
“We’re asking the small percentage of bars and restaurants that have opened for inside dining and drinking to stop and comply with the executive order,” Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said in a statement. “Thousands of our neighbors have died from COVID-19 in Minnesota.”
“That should be enough of a reminder that the health of our communities has to come first. Bars and restaurants that don’t abide by the law will face the consequences of their actions.”
Walz’s order banning on-premises indoor dining was extended through Jan. 10 on Friday, KSTP reported. As of Saturday, restaurants can seat customers outdoors at half capacity with a maximum of 100 people and no more than four people at a table.