The Minnesota Department of Public Safety on Sunday suspended the liquor license of an East Grand Forks restaurant that has opted to remain open despite pandemic-related restrictions ordered by Gov. Tim Walz.
The suspension will last 60 days, according to the department's Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division.
“While we recognize the struggles that bars and liquor establishments have experienced, willful disregard of the law that puts Minnesotans in danger cannot and will not be ignored. People's lives have to take precedent during this pandemic,” Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said in a release that was sent to the Herald Sunday. “We will continue to work with our local public safety and business partners to educate and provide advice to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
It’s the latest development in a story that began last week, when Boardwalk openly defied the order and continued business as usual despite the statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants. Co-owners Jane Moss and Dan Stauss reopened their restaurant on Wednesday in defiance of Walz’s mid-November order that prohibits dine-in service through Dec. 18.
Friday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a temporary restraining order against the Boardwalk; later that day, a Polk County judge agreed, and ordered the establishment to close. But the Boardwalk continued to serve patrons throughout Friday night and opened again Saturday.
In an interview with the Herald Saturday, Ellison said “our whole system of justice depends upon people complying” with the law.
“Whatever happens next really depends upon the people who own the establishment,” he said.
Moss declined to comment to the Herald Saturday.
Sunday’s statement from the Department of Public Safety declared the 60-day liquor license suspension begins immediately and will last until Feb. 9. It also said further violations of the order will result in a five-year license revocation.
Further, the agency’s statement clarified Executive Order 20-99, reminding businesses that:
● All restaurants and bars are prohibited from selling alcohol for on-premises consumption from Nov. 20, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. through Dec. 18, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.
● Establishments with on-sale liquor licenses are allowed to sell beer and wine with takeout orders pursuant to legislation signed by Gov. Walz in April of this year.
● Any liquor licensee found to be in violation of EO-99 may be issued a misdemeanor citation for the violation.
● A second violation shall result in a 60-day liquor license suspension.
● A third or subsequent violation shall result in a five-year revocation of the liquor license and the subsequent revocation of the establishment’s retail identification card (buyer’s card). Minn. Stat. § 340A.415.