This article was originally published on Dec. 31, 2020
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville and The Interchange in Albert Lea both opened up for customers on New Year’s Eve — and were subsequently notified by the state that they face five-year liquor license suspensions for repeatedly violating Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order.
The Dakota County District Court granted Attorney General Keith Ellison’s motion for a temporary injunction Thursday against Alibi, a bar which has opened multiple times for indoor dining in recent weeks. The order converts the temporary restraining order previously granted on Dec. 18, and will stay in effect for the duration of the state’s lawsuit.
If Alibi does not remain closed through Jan. 10, 2021, they could lose their liquor license.
As of Thursday evening, Ellison is asking for the bar to be found in contempt of court. A hearing has been set for Jan. 5 at 11 a.m.
The bar’s owner, Lisa Zarza swore to the court in an affidavit that “Starting as of today [December 22, 2020], we have closed our doors.” However, Zarza posted on Facebook on Dec. 30 that the bar would be open on Dec. 31. Witnesses on Thursday saw that Alibi Drinkery allowed more than five people inside, and food and drinks were being served.
“I take no pleasure in seeking this sanction, but I cannot allow this establishment to prolong Minnesota’s pain,” said Ellison. “Nearly all Minnesota businesses are meeting their responsibility to their communities to stop the spread of COVID-19, but this establishment is defying the court and the community and risking Minnesotans’ lives.”
In Thursday morning’s order, the court wrote:
“Freedom means to most Americans the ability to do what we want subject to two simple limitations: first, that our activities are legal and second what we are doing doesn’t cause harm to others. The actions of the Defendant in this time of unprecedented disease transmission, illness, and death are both against the law and harmful. Their blatant and intentional defiance of the law is directly promoting the spread of COVID-19, exposing their customers and employees to disease. Further this transmission immediately becomes the problem of others in the health care system, compounded in its effect by being brought home, to work, etc. In addition, they are exploding the good conduct of others in the community who are following the law.”
A court ruled today the Lakeville restaurant that put the cmty at risk of COVID19 by offering indoor on-premises dining must close. If it doesn't, it risks contempt of court & revocation of its liquor license. Worse, it risks prolonging everyone’s pain. https://t.co/9tQGFc5HsI
— Attorney General Keith Ellison (@AGEllison) December 31, 2020
Ellison had filed a lawsuit against Alibi for multiple alleged violations of the ban on indoor dining on Dec. 17.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DPS-AGED) says The Interchange in Albert Lea recently advertised a “New Year’s Eve Celebration” on Facebook, announcing drink specials and suggesting customers make reservations. DPS-AGED agents have also seen customers inside the establishment for the past several days, with the exception of Christmas Day.
Out of the 10,000 restaurants and 1,500 bars in Minnesota, Ellison’s office and the Minnesota Department of Health have issued 11 lawsuits against establishments violating Walz’s executive orders.