MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Attorney General Keith Ellison’s Office on Monday announced legal actions being made against three restaurants that they say have violated executive orders restricting indoor dining.

MDH & Pine River, Oslo Restaurants

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According to the health department, it has issued a cease-and-desist orders and notices of license suspension to Long Pine Store in Pine River and Jamieson’s on Main in Oslo “after determining that the facilities had violated executive orders designed to protect their employees, customers, and communities from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

MDH says an inspection on Dec. 18 found that Long Pine Store was open for on-premises beverage consumption in violation of the governor’s dial-back order. A Dec. 21 inspection of Jamieson’s on Main found that it was open for indoor food consumption.

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MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff says the enforcement actions were a last resort.

“COVID-19 protocols are designed to slow the spread of this virus and reduce the impacts of this pandemic,” Huff said. “Our preference is always to work with businesses 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.”

Court Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against Clarks Grove Restaurant

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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office announced separately Monday that a Freeborn County District Court has granted his office’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the Pour House in Clarks Grove.

Last week, Ellison’s office sued the restaurant for “openly violating the ban on indoor on-premises dining.”

Ellison says the Pour House must now comply with the order or risk being found in contempt of court.

“Yet another court has recognized the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the firm legal foundation of the State’s legitimate interest in putting a stop to it,” Ellison said. “I thank the thousands of Minnesota bars and restaurants that have done the right thing and met their responsibility to their communities by continuing to follow the law. A handful are choosing to ignore their responsibility: by so doing, they’re simply extending the pain the pandemic has already wrought upon all of us.

Ellison’s office has filed multiple lawsuits against restaurants that reopened indoor dining in defiance of state orders.

Earlier this month, Gov. Tim Walz issued an extension on parts of the executive order restricting indoor dining until at least Jan. 10. Up to five members of the public are allowed inside a restaurant at one time for takeout food.

Restrictions on outdoor dining were relaxed to 50% capacity with a maximum of 100 people.

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