Businesses that try to reopen in Minnesota face visits from law enforcement, $10,000 fines and revoked licenses.
The Reopen Minnesota Coalition attempted to rally hundreds of businesses to resume operation this week in defiance of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s recently extended coronavirus shutdown orders. While it remains unclear how many businesses actually opened, what is clear is that the state is ready and willing to penalize those who do.
Mission Tavern in Merrifield, Minnesota, was fined $10,000 this week for trying to keep its doors open, per the Minnesota Department of Health. Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville, Neighbors on the Rum in Princeton, Boardwalk Bar & Grill in East Grand Forks and Mission Tavern all had their liquor licenses revoked for 60 days, according to a Thursday press release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison also announced that his office filed lawsuits against Alibi Drinkery and Neighbors on the Rum. If Ellison is successful in these suits, each business could owe “up to $25,000 for each violation or threatened violation of the executive order.”
However, Ellison announced later Thursday night that Neighbors on the Rum agreed to close for in-person dining after being sued.
Other establishments, such as a restaurant in Lynd, Minnesota, which is owned by a single mother, are presently embroiled in legal battles with local officials attempting to enforce the shutdown.
Police have also been dispatched to check up on businesses that have expressed their support for the Reopen Minnesota Coalition.
“A coalition recently announced that a number of establishments had decided to open in violation of EO 20-99. Local law enforcement visited several of these bars and restaurants today,” reads a Wednesday press release from the DPS.
Meanwhile, state officials maintain that allowing restaurants to reopen like retail outlets and other businesses will result in death. “People will get sick and die because of you,” Ellison said to restaurant owners who want to reopen.
Darius Teichroew, the organizer of the Reopen Coalition, takes a different approach. He has posted data that seems to show Minnesota can safely reopen restaurants like other businesses and pleaded with the state to think of the lives destroyed by the shutdowns.
“These businesses represent not some money-hungry owners looking to swim in pools of gold, but rather people who have spent their lives risking so much to accomplish their dreams, employees struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their heads just as Christmas arrives, and so many other suffering Minnesotans. So we ask you simply and gently, have a heart,” Teichroew said on the radio show Justice & Drew recently.