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State files lawsuits against Freeborn County businesses over COVID violations

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. AP image

Seeking penalties of up to $25,000.

Posted: Dec 21, 2020 3:10 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. – State lawsuits have now been filed against two Freeborn County businesses for violating Governor Walz’ COVID restrictions.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says his office has filed suit against The Interchange in Albert Lea, the Pour House in Clarks Grove, as well as St. Patrick’s Tavern in New Prague. In announcing the lawsuits, Ellison stated:

- The State has received more than a dozen complaints about Pour House, including a report that noted the bar was operating at “max capacity.” Public social-media posts show patrons sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at the bar, and no face coverings worn by any employee or customer.

- The Interchange announced on December 15, 2020, that it would open for “IN-DOOR DINING… in defiance of the governor’s order.” On December 17, The Interchange held an indoor concert. By December 18, the Minnesota Department of Health had served a cease-and-desist order on the Interchange, but a representative of the restaurant vowed that it would continue to allow on-site dining. The restaurant was still open on December 19.

“There are 10,000 restaurants and 1,500 bars in Minnesota. By far the vast majority of them have served their communities by complying with the law all along,” says Ellison. “Unfortunately, a very small handful are threatening their customers, their workers, and their communities by refusing to comply and violating the law. Their insistence on violating the law is simply prolonging the pain of the pandemic for everyone.”

Ellison says his lawsuits asked the court to:

- Declare that defendants’ actions constitute violations of Executive Order 20-99;
- Stop anyone associated with these establishments from violating or threatening to violate the executive orders;
- Award restitution, disgorgement, or damages to the State;
- Impose civil penalties of up to $25,000 for each violation or threatened violation of the executive order;
- Award the State its costs; and
- Impose any other relief the court finds just.

“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: they deserve our thanks and our patronage, not unfair competition,” says Ellison. “I don’t enjoy using the enforcement tools I have available because I’d much prefer all establishments do the right thing on their own, but I will continue to use them when I have no other choice to protect Minnesotans from this deadly virus.”

A post to the Facebook page of The Interchange states:

“As American-loving Patriots we all know why we’re doing this. It’s not only about the Interchange. It’s not only about our wonderful staff. It’s not only about our beloved patrons. It’s certainly not about my “paycheck” because in the 7 years I’ve owned this business I’ve never taken a cent."

"What this IS about: Our Constitutional rights as individuals. This is about our rights to freely invite friends and family into our homes, to freely operate businesses, to freely go where we want, when we want, to freely choose to attend church, to freely choose whether we wear a mask or not, to freely choose to take a vaccine or not. Etc etc etc.”

“This is for our children’s and grandchildren’s freedoms and liberties! This is for their future! God bless the U.S.A. and God bless the citizens of this great republic!”

Lisa Hanson
Owner, Proprietor and Patriot

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 692029

Reported Deaths: 8118
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1420361857
Ramsey59138950
Dakota52802499
Anoka48675484
Washington31035311
Stearns25220241
St. Louis20709336
Scott19922146
Wright18796163
Olmsted16101111
Sherburne13732104
Carver1228652
Clay928595
Rice9218124
Blue Earth883747
Crow Wing7961102
Kandiyohi750289
Chisago725258
Otter Tail680795
Benton6577101
Mower570538
Winona561352
Goodhue557680
Douglas543684
Itasca527671
Beltrami521172
McLeod513464
Steele512821
Isanti497170
Morrison473363
Nobles453850
Becker445859
Polk439975
Freeborn434140
Lyon399854
Carlton395659
Nicollet384747
Pine379526
Mille Lacs360360
Brown354244
Cass350835
Le Sueur345930
Todd328434
Meeker311049
Waseca294725
Martin268733
Wabasha24734
Dodge24655
Hubbard238541
Roseau235924
Houston207416
Redwood204042
Renville202548
Fillmore200810
Pennington193622
Wadena189426
Faribault182825
Sibley178810
Cottonwood178524
Chippewa172739
Kanabec167029
Aitkin157338
Watonwan156711
Rock141819
Jackson135412
Pope13478
Yellow Medicine127020
Pipestone125526
Koochiching122319
Stevens121611
Swift118819
Murray116610
Marshall105818
Clearwater105418
Lake93021
Wilkin90314
Lac qui Parle87024
Mahnomen7069
Big Stone7014
Grant6958
Norman6739
Lincoln6624
Kittson53722
Unassigned50993
Red Lake4937
Traverse4325
Lake of the Woods4124
Cook2140

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 438547

Reported Deaths: 6420
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk69441683
Linn26618363
Scott23312265
Black Hawk19397338
Woodbury17483233
Johnson1698692
Dubuque14775221
Pottawattamie13369186
Dallas13048102
Story1211448
Warren707893
Webster6479103
Cerro Gordo6370105
Clinton635898
Des Moines618084
Muscatine5985109
Marshall586981
Sioux547676
Jasper532076
Lee529084
Wapello5230128
Buena Vista479442
Marion464086
Plymouth442185
Henry351341
Jones341159
Bremer331365
Washington330454
Crawford326844
Carroll326553
Benton325756
Boone318636
Mahaska282754
Dickinson276547
Kossuth257471
Clay255629
Jackson253844
Tama246073
Hardin244547
Buchanan244238
Delaware240143
Cedar228025
Fayette227945
Page225724
Wright221741
Winneshiek219237
Hamilton216752
Harrison205476
Madison199920
Clayton199758
Floyd195742
Butler191936
Poweshiek188837
Mills188225
Iowa185927
Cherokee184740
Allamakee181152
Jefferson178238
Lyon178041
Calhoun172213
Hancock170336
Winnebago170131
Cass164356
Louisa161651
Grundy161335
Appanoose158149
Shelby156539
Emmet153241
Franklin152224
Humboldt151626
Union149937
Sac147922
Mitchell146143
Guthrie142132
Chickasaw141618
Palo Alto134527
Clarke130226
Montgomery127940
Keokuk121332
Monroe118733
Howard118422
Ida109838
Davis105025
Greene103012
Pocahontas102623
Monona99034
Lucas98523
Adair97734
Worth9558
Osceola84717
Decatur76710
Fremont76511
Van Buren75221
Taylor73412
Wayne66323
Ringgold63027
Audubon60114
Adams4254
Unassigned270
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