A 60-day liquor license suspension is potentially looming for seven Minnesota restaurants that have allegedly violated Democrat Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-related ban on indoor dining. Pending a hearing before a state administrative judge, the eateries could even wind up losing their licenses for up to five years.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is the agency responsible for enforcing the governor’s executive order that is seen as particularly devastating to the restaurant industry, especially to smaller establishments that may not be able to rely on takeout to keep the doors open.
Walz’s edict prohibits sit-down meals through January 10, but it is not inconceivable that it could be extended.
Minnesota’s far-left AG Keith Ellison is separately suing several establishments for non-compliance. The owner of one of them, who owns a 13-table restaurant that is abiding by social distancing, told the Star Tribune, “I literally only have to do 25 customers in four days [each week] to survive. I’m not trying to make a political statement. I want everybody to survive. I’m not a right-wing or a left-wing or an independent wing. I’m just an American.”
Gov. Walz, who apart from his long National Guard service is more-or less a career politician who received a bachelor’s degree in social science rather than in a hard science, has also closed down gyms as a way to stop the spread.
As part of the ongoing legal wrangling, the state’s public health department has hit several restaurants with cease-and-desist orders.
In the meantime, a loosely aligned coalition of small businesses that have gathered under the banner of the ReOpen Minnesota Coalition, intend to continue operating and thereby provide income for owners and workers.
“For those who want to say that these businesses are putting others at risk… we challenge you to show us from any science and data that the risk of going to a bar, or working out at a gym, or bowling ten frames, or teaching a small dance class is any more dangerous than going to Walmart, walking through a crowded MOA, or spending two hours in a busy supermarket,” the group’s Facebook page claims.
The page encourages consumers to patronize those businesses that are staying open.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) December 15, 2020
Subject to certain limitations, outdoor dining is permitted. Patio dining hardly seems practical right now in freezing-cold Minnesota, however, although some eateries have installed space heaters to keep the revenue stream flowing.
In a statement, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington insisted that “We’re asking the small percentage of bars and restaurants that have opened for inside dining and drinking to stop and comply with the executive order. Thousands of our neighbors have died from COVID-19 in Minnesota.”
“That should be enough of a reminder that the health of our communities has to come first. Bars and restaurants that don’t abide by the law will face the consequences of their actions.”
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