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Attorney General's office files enforcement actions against Lakeville and Princeton restaurants illegally operating on-premises dining

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville and Neighbors on the Rum in Princeton put community at risk by violating ban on on-premises dining intended to slow the spread of COVID-19

 

December 21, 2020



December 17, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has filed two lawsuits against Lakeville restaurant Alibi Drinkery and Princeton restaurant Neighbors on the Rum that opened yesterday to on-premises dining in open violation of Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99. Among the requirements of the executive order — a targeted dial-back of certain activities to halt the spread of COVID-19 — are that bars and restaurants must close for on-premises indoor dining until December 18, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. That prohibition was extended yesterday by Executive Order 20-103 until January 10, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville proudly announced its dangerous decision to increase the risk of community spread of COVID-19 in its community, recording multiple videos of its violations and promising to pack more people into enclosed indoor spaces in a period where the virus is still spreading throughout the State. When asked what she would do if officials asked her to close, Alibi Drinkery’s owner stated that she would “see them in court.”

Neighbors on the Rum in Princeton opened its establishment to 40-50 people for on-premises consumption last night. Even when confronted by local police officers, Neighbors on the Rum stated that it would willfully continue to defy Executive Order 20-99. Minnesota Department of Health workers noted the Neighbors on the Rum was not only allowing on-premises dining, but also seating people closer than six feet apart, further increasing the chance of COVID-19 community spread.

“I know it’s tough out there for businesses and employees and help is already on the way — but what these establishments are doing is wrong. Not just wrong in breaking the law — wrong in exposing their loved ones, their customers, their employees, their communities, and potentially every Minnesotan to COVID-19. People will get sick, and some will die, because they’re breaking the law,” Attorney General Ellison said. “They’re also doing wrong by the vast majority of Minnesota businesses that are serving their communities by complying with the law. Those businesses deserve our thanks and our patronage, not unfair competition.

“The businesses we’re holding accountable today know what they need to do to comply with the law and instead they’re flouting it. I don’t enjoy using the enforcement tools I have, but it’s my job to protect Minnesotans and I will use them to hold violators accountable and keep Minnesotans safe.”

In its lawsuits against the restaurants, Attorney General Ellison’s office has 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 order;

• 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.

Attorney General Ellison’s office is continuing to work closely with state agencies and local law enforcement to gather evidence of violations of the executive order and will actively pursue more enforcement actions where violations have taken place. The Attorney General’s office and its partners have a range of enforcement tools at their disposal to hold businesses, their owners and agents accountable for violating the order.

Attorney General Ellison’s office has civil authority to enforce the terms of Executive Order 20-99 as extended by Executive Order 20-103 and seek relief if necessary. The Governor’s executive orders have the force and effect of law during the peacetime emergency.

 

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