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.”
“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!”
Owner, Proprietor and Patriot