Minnesota restaurants to pay thousands in fines for violating COVID lockdowns

It wasn't until February of this year that Gov. Walz finally loosened restrictions on the capacity and operations of Minnesota bars and restaurants.

Gov. Tim Walz (Lorie Shaull/Flickr)

Two Minnesota restaurants, Boardwalk Bar and Grill and a chain named Shady’s, will need to fork over $25,000 and $30,000 in fines respectively for violating COVID lockdown orders in 2020.

The restaurants are obligated to pay the fines after settling lawsuits filed against them by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, according to a press release.

Boardwalk Bar and Grill, located in East Grand Forks, was found to have violated Gov. Tim Walz’s Emergency Executive Order 20-99, which was enacted on Nov. 18, 2020. That executive order prohibited restaurants from allowing in-person dining during a nationwide COVID surge.

In addition, Boardwalk faces a 30-day suspension of its liquor and food and beverage licenses in “separate settlements with the Minnesota Departments of Public Safety and Health,” per the press release from Ellison’s office.

Shady’s, a chain that operates six locations in central Minnesota, also faced a lawsuit for “widely publicized threats to violate Emergency Executive Order 20-56,” which was enacted on May 13, 2020, and extended a temporary closure of bars and restaurants at the beginning of the pandemic.

The chain is facing $30,000 in fines, which the attorney general says will go to the State of Minnesota’s General Fund.

Attorney General Ellison released a statement on the settlement of his lawsuits.

“The vast majority of restaurants and businesses around the State complied with the governor’s orders: they put the health and safety of their customers and community ahead of their profits, and I thank them for it. They should not suffer unfair and illegal competition from other businesses just because they did the right thing,” he said.

“We continue to be committed to holding accountable those entities that put public safety at risk. I am pleased that these businesses finally chose to take responsibility for their actions.”

Alpha News has previously covered the response of state officials to defiant bars and restaurants in Minnesota. Shady’s and Boardwalk Bar and Grill were hardly the only restaurants to ignore COVID lockdowns. Several others faced cease-and-desist orders last December for opening their establishments to in-person dining and alcohol consumption.

One restaurant owner, Larvita McFarquhar, refused to close her restaurant that month following state orders to do so and faced a daily $250 fine until she complied.

It wasn’t until February of this year that Gov. Walz finally loosened restrictions on the capacity and operations of Minnesota bars and restaurants.