MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says his office has filed a lawsuit against a Wabasha County fitness center that he says refuses to close as required by the state’s new COVID-19 restrictions.

On Wednesday, Ellison says the lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order was filed against Plainview Wellness Center to prohibit it from staying open. It’s the first enforcement action the attorney general’s office has brought under the new executive order.

According to Ellison, his office reached out to the fitness center to educate its management of the requirements of the executive order that, among other things, closes gyms until Dec. 18. However, in response, management threatened to continue to operate and stay open to the public in violation of the order’s requirements.

Ellison says the gym’s decision potentially exposes more Minnesotans to community spread of COVID-19 and that he has the civil authority to “enforce the prohibition and seek relief” if necessary.

“Governor Walz has made the tough but smart choice to dial back activities that data have shown spread COVID-19,” Ellison said. “I know these requirements are hard on folks — but fortunately, the vast majority of people and businesses affected are making that sacrifice and complying with the order, because they know we’re all responsible for stopping the spread of COVID. I’d much rather that everyone comply — but when it’s necessary to go to court to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect compliant businesses from unfair competition, I won’t hesitate to do so.”

Ellison says of the more than 100 businesses and events that his office and other agencies have worked to gain compliance with COVID-19 requirements, the Wabasha County lawsuit represents the third enforcement action the state has needed to bring.

Gov. Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99 is a targeted, four-week dial back of certain activities to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus. Under the order, gyms and venues hosting indoor events must be closed until Dec. 18 at 11:59 p.m.

Plainview is located in southeastern Minnesota.