MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —A Lakeville bar and restaurant that opened its doors in defiance of the governor’s executive order had its argument heard in court Wednesday morning.

After a video surfaced last week, Alibi Drinkery became the center of the debate over Gov. Tim Walz’s ban on indoor gathering and dining at bars and restaurants.

The video showed a large crowd of people gathered at the bar, not wearing masks. The state said the gatherings happened for several days. The state attorney general’s office sued the bar.

“There is no dispute that it is a legitimate policy goal of the state to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Odette, assistant attorney general, at Wednesday’s virtual hearing.

The attorney general’s office cited science, data and a spike in COVID-19 cases to support a temporary shutdown of indoor drinking and dining. By defying the governor’s orders, Alibi Drinkery put the public at risk, the state argued.

“And despite repeated warnings, continued to provide on premise dining to customers in a way that demonstrated a total disregard for public safety, creating a high-risk environment,” Odette said.

Alibi attorney Michael Padden’s argument is one that other bar and restaurant owners have brought up before. He questioned how much power the governor has to shut down indoor drinking and dining.

“The governor renders these executive orders and it’s almost like, well, you know, it’s going to greatly effect some businesses more than others. gee, we are really sorry about that,” Padden said.

Padden told Judge Jerome Abrams that the state isn’t doing enough to help bars and restaurants suffering losses during the shutdown. Padden said that so far there’s no evidence that what happened at Alibi led to COVID-19 spread.

“This business has lost 23 of 25 employees,” Padden said. “They’ve lost gross revenue of over $350,000. The reality is they are going to go out of business with these types of policies.”

He said right now Alibi is complying with the temporary restraining order put into effect by the state, and is currently closed.

The judge said he will review arguments from both sides before deciding what the next step will be in the case.

John Lauritsen