State of Minnesota Executive Order Enforcement Tools

Below is an outline of the State of Minnesota’s tools, including those of the Attorney General’s office, when it comes to enforcing Executive Order 20-99 and related prior and successor orders. Attorney General Keith Ellison released the following statement: 

“I’m asking all businesses affected by executive orders to comply with them voluntarily — which the vast majority of Minnesota businesses are already doing. I’m also asking businesses that are considering reopening in defiance of executive orders not to do it. You’re putting people at risk. People will get sick and die because of you. Not only from COVID-19: if someone has a heart attack or a stroke or a car accident and dies because they can’t get an ICU bed that’s being used by someone who got COVID at your establishment, or got it from someone who got it at your establishment, that death is also on you. 

“I know COVID-19 is an economic crisis as well as a health crisis. I’m glad the Legislature passed a relief package for businesses and workers that Governor Walz is signing today. Congress is finally close to approving a relief package as well. And hopefully vaccines will be widely available soon. But right now, Minnesota’s ICU and non-ICU hospital beds are 90 percent full. Right now, bars and restaurants reopening for on-premises indoor service is the wrong way to solve the economic crisis: it’s dangerous and puts neighbors, loved ones, and whole communities at risk. 

“My office and our partners at the Departments of Health, Labor and Industry, and Public Safety are working together to keep Minnesotans safe and help businesses and workers weather this crisis. The vast majority of businesses that we have worked with are complying with executive orders because they understand their responsibility to keep people safe and care about their customers, employees, and communities. Using our enforcement tools to force compliance on the few that are not complying or are threatening not to comply is a last resort, but we will use them when we need to.” 

State of Minnesota enforcement authority and penalties for violations of Executive Orders 

Attorney General’s Office  

Enforcement authority 

Enforcement actions under 20-99 

The Attorney General’s office has directly brought two enforcement actions under Executive Order 20-99. 

Attorney General’s approach:  Winning voluntary compliance 

Already tested in court 

Minnesota Department of Health 

Enforcement authority 

The Minnesota Department of Health’s Environmental Health Division is responsible for regulating restaurants among other facilities. The division uses the following tools, escalating through the list depending on each situation. 

Enforcement actions under 20-99 

Minnesota Department of Public Safety 

Enforcement authority 

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division is responsible for regulating licensed liquor establishments to ensure compliance with the state liquor laws and rules. The division uses the following tools, escalating through the list depending on each situation. 

Enforcement actions under 20-99 

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement division has issued a notice of liquor license suspension to the Boardwalk Bar & Grill LLC in East Grand Forks, Minn., for continuing to violate Executive Order 20-99. 

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry 

Enforcement authority 

Enforcement actions 

For the time period starting in March through November 2020, MNOSHA has issued 131 citations for violations observed during COVID-19 related inspections. 

Criminal penalty authority