Attorney General's office files new enforcement action against event center set on hosting New Year's Eve party
Carlson Event Center in Winnebago threatens to put community at risk by violating ban on indoor events and entertainment intended to slow the spread of COVID-19
December 31, 2020
December 30, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has filed a lawsuit against Carlson Event Center in Winnebago, which has advertised that it will hold a “New Years Eve Bash” on December 31, 2020 into the early morning hours of January 1, 2021, in violation of Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99, as that order has been extended and modified by Executive Order 20-103. Among the requirements of those orders — targeted dial-backs of certain activities to halt the spread of COVID-19 — are that venues hosting indoor events and entertainment, like concert halls and performance venues, must temporarily close to the public until January 10, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.
Carlson Event Center’s advertisement indicates that it will be hosting a “big new year’s dance,” urging attendees to bring their own beer and liquor. The Attorney General’s Office attempted to reach out to the business, but calls and emails went unreturned.
“Performance venues, like many other businesses, have been hurting during this pandemic. I’m glad to see efforts like the recently-passed Minnesota aid package and the Minnesota-born national Save Our Stages Act are out there helping these businesses make it through this challenging time. By far the vast majority of indoor venues have been complying with the law all along. But when a business irresponsibly opens to the public to throw a dance party, their insistence on violating the law is simply prolonging the pain of the pandemic for everyone,” Attorney General Ellison said.
“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,” Attorney General Ellison concluded.
In its lawsuits against the event center, Attorney General Ellison’s office has asked the court to:
• Declare that defendants’ actions constitute violations of Executive Order 20-99, as extended and modified by Executive Order 20-103;
• 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.
Any and all fines the court may impose go to the State of Minnesota general fund, not the Attorney General’s Office.
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.