MDH, Keith Ellison shut down more Minnesota restaurants

"A handful (of bars and restaurants) are choosing to ignore their responsibility: by so doing, they’re simply extending the pain the pandemic has already wrought upon all of us.”

Background: The Pour House/ Facebook via The POUR HOUSE. Left: Minnesota Department of Health logo. Right: Attorney General Keith Ellison/ Attorney General's office.

Five more Minnesota restaurants have been issued cease-and-desist orders and license suspension notices from the Minnesota Department of Health.

A press release from the MDH claims Long Pine Store in Pine River was observed on Dec. 18 serving beverages in person, and Jamieson’s on Main in Oslo was found serving food for in-person dining on Dec. 21.

Jamieson’s on Main in Oslo, Minnesota/Facebook

Investigators determined “that the facilities had violated executive orders designed to protect their employees, customers, and communities from the COVID-19 pandemic.” The governor’s Executive Order 20-99 prohibits restaurants and bars from offering dine-in options.

Cease-and-desist orders were issued to both within the last week, as well as notices of “license suspension.” The news release does not specify which licenses MDH plans on suspending.

Additionally, Joe’s Diner in East Grand Forks, King Sparrow in Milaca, and Big Orv’s in Adrian have all been issued cease-and-desist orders and given notices of license suspension.

Joe’s Diner in East Grand Forks, Minnesota/Facebook

“A waitress was not wearing a mask and there were no signs reminding customers to wear masks” at Joe’s Diner, according to a news release from MDH.

“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,” MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff said.

In another case, a court has ordered The Pour House, a restaurant in Clarks Grove, to close for in-person dining after the Attorney General’s Office filed for a temporary restraining order early last week. The Pour House must now comply with the court’s order or “risk being found in contempt of court.”

Attorney General Keith Ellison said, “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 …  A handful (of bars and restaurants) 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 reiterated that enforcement actions are a “last resort,” but he will employ them when necessary.