A Minnesota restaurant has been fined more than $9,000 and two others have been sued as the state begins its crackdown on non-compliant business owners.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the Iron Waffle in Nisswa was the subject of multiple complaints alleging non-compliance with Gov. Tim Walz’s mask mandate. Efforts to bring the restaurant “into compliance” failed, so the agency issued a cease and desist order in early August.
The restaurant briefly closed but then reopened and ignored an “Administrative Penalty Order” from the Minnesota Department of Health, according to a press release.
MDH staff inspected the establishment earlier this month and “found it was allowing on-site consumption in violation” of Walz’s shutdown mandate. As such, the department revoked the restaurant’s license last week and saddled the owners with a $9,500 fine for “non-compliance and unresponsiveness.”
Meanwhile, Larvita McFarquhar, owner of Haven’s Garden in Lynd, Minnesota, was issued a cease and desist order Wednesday morning. McFarquhar has received national media attention for being one of the first small business owners in the state to refuse to comply with the governor’s orders.
“I’m not going to give up my liberties, I’m not going to teach my daughters to give up their liberties, and I want them to learn how to fight,” she told Alpha News. “If I’m not that example — which is very hard for me — who else is going to do it?”
On Friday, the MDH and Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a lawsuit against McFarquhar, seeking a court-ordered injunction to prevent her from staying open.
The Boardwalk Bar & Grill in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, another restaurant that refused to close despite receiving a cease and desist order, was sued by Attorney General Ellison last week. The Polk County District Court quickly granted Ellison’s request for a temporary restraining order, meaning the restaurant must close for in-person service.
“I’m grateful for the court’s quick action, because lives are at stake,” Ellison said in a statement. “We will pursue this enforcement action in order to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans.”
Gov. Walz is expected to make a decision by Wednesday on whether or not he will extend his restrictions beyond Dec. 18. Regardless, more than 100 restaurants are reportedly planning to open this week in defiance of his orders.