Attorney General Ellison acts again to enforce Executive Order 20-99
Files lawsuit and motion for temporary restraining order against non-compliant East Grand Forks bar and restaurant that opened to the public and refused to close, putting community at risk
December 11, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has filed a lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order to prohibit an East Grand Forks bar and restaurant, the Boardwalk Bar and Grill, from remaining open to the public for on-premises dining, as required under Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99. Among the requirements of the executive order — a targeted, four-week dial-back of certain activities to halt the spread of COVID-19 — are that bars and restaurants must close for on-premises dining until December 18, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Attorney General Ellison’s office has civil authority to enforce that prohibition and seek relief if necessary.
On December 9, 2020, the Boardwalk Bar and Grill, LLC promoted on its restaurant Facebook page that “we will be opening TODAY at 4:00pm for dine-in services and will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm.” Local law enforcement arrived at the designated opening time, presented owner Jane Moss with a copy of Executive Order 20-99 and informed her that Boardwalk Bar and Grill was open in violation of the Order. Ms. Moss indicated that she understood this but chose to continue to operate and stay open to the public in violation of the Order’s requirements, thereby potentially exposing more Minnesotans to community spread of COVID-19. Law enforcement observed members of the public entering and the bar and restaurant areas full of customers eating and drinking throughout the evening.
On December 10, the Minnesota Department of Health served the Boardwalk Bar and Grill with a cease and desist order, ordering it to close. Nevertheless, the restaurant has publicly stated it intends to disregard Executive Order 20-99 and the Minnesota Department of Health’s Cease and Desist Order and remain open to the public for on-premises dining.
“COVID-19 is deadly serious: it doesn’t care who you are or where you live, and it’s hurting people in every corner of Minnesota. This is why it’s everyone’s responsibility to stop it. Most Minnesota business owners recognize this: they’re making sacrifices to comply with the law because they care about the health of their employees and communities. I know it’s especially tough on establishments in border areas — but the fact that neighboring states should be doing more to stop the spread of COVID doesn’t mean Minnesotans should do less. It’s only fair to the businesses that are doing their part to hold accountable those that aren’t,” Attorney General Ellison said.
High incidence of COVID-19 in Minnesota, North Dakota, and neighboring states
East Grand Forks borders North Dakota, the state with the highest per-capita incidence of COVID-19 in America. The four states that border Minnesota are the four states in the country with the highest per-capita incidence of COVID-19: after North Dakota, they are South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Minnesota ranks 11th in the nation in COVID-19 cases per capita.
As of today, there have been 2,964 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Polk County, where East Grand Forks is located. Polk County ranks 23rd of Minnesota’s 87 counties in numbers of confirmed cases. Over the last 14 days, Grand Forks County, North Dakota, which borders on Polk County, has reported an average of 84 new cases of COVID-19 per day.
According to the New York Times, of the top 100 “hot spot” counties in the country — those with the highest number of recent COVID-19 cases per resident — nine are in North Dakota and eight are in Minnesota.
Past enforcement actions
This is the second enforcement action the Attorney General’s office has brought under Executive Order 20-99. Of the well over 100 businesses and events that the Attorney General’s office and its partners at the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Labor and Industry have worked with to gain compliance with requirements to stop the spread of COVID-19, including under Executive Order 20-74, today’s lawsuit represents only the fourth enforcement action the State has needed to bring.
Report COVID-19-related concerns
Attorney General Ellison reminds Minnesotans that they can report COVID-19-related concerns and complaints either through the Office’s dedicated COVID-19 online complaint form on his website or by calling his office at (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota).
December 11, 2020 — Court orders E. Grand Forks establishment operating in violation of Executive Order 20-99 to close