MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Monday announced that three more lawsuits have been filed against restaurants operating indoor dining in violation of the current COVID-19 restrictions.

According to Ellison, the lawsuits include St. Patrick’s Tavern in New Prague, Pour House in Clarks Grove and The Interchange in Albert Lea.

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Ellison says St. Patrick’s Tavern had 150 to 200 vehicles in its parking lot on Dec. 18 and witnesses reported the establishment was standing room only, with it “packed inside so tightly that it was difficult to move around inside.”

The state also received more than a dozen complaints about Pour House, including a report that the bar was operating at max capacity and no face coverings were being worn by any employee or customer.

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The Interchange announced it would be opening for in-door dining on Dec. 15 and also held an indoor concert on Dec. 17. It was served a cease-and-desist order by the Minnesota Department of Health, but the restaurant owner vowed to continue on-side dining, Ellison’s office said.

“There are 10,000 restaurants and 1,500 bars in Minnesota. By far the vast majority of them have served their communities by complying with the law all along. Unfortunately, a very small handful are threatening their customers, their workers, and their communities by refusing to comply and violating the law. Their insistence on violating the law is simply prolonging the pain of the pandemic for everyone,” Ellison said.

Last week, Ellison filed lawsuits against Lakeville’s Alibi Drinkery and Princeton’s Neighbors on the Rum. The restaurants both opened after Gov. Tim Walz issued an extension on parts of the executive order restricting indoor dining until at least Jan. 10.

This is the 10th such lawsuit of its kind so far in Minnesota. Ellison’s office also announced Monday that temporary restraining orders have been filed against the owners of Cornerstone Café in Monticello, and Cork in Anoka. His office filed lawsuits against those businesses last Friday.

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