Court orders E. Grand Forks establishment to comply with executive order requiring temporary closure for indoor on-premises dining

Court also orders Boardwalk Bar and Grill to fully comply with all subsequent applicable executive orders for the duration of State’s lawsuit; rules Governor Walz acted within his authority

December 22, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that Polk County District Court has granted his office’s motion for a temporary injunction against Boardwalk Bar and Grill in East Grand Forks, which the State has sued for violating the ban on indoor, on-premises dining in Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99. The court ordered that “Defendant is prohibited from taking any action in violation of Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99 or any subsequent Executive Order” and that “Defendant shall fully comply with Executive Order 20-99 or any subsequent and applicable Executive Order…” The order converts the temporary restraining order that the court previously granted into a temporary injunction that will remain in effect for the duration of the State’s lawsuit.

In its order, the court found “a clear rational relationship between Executive Order 20-99 and the legitimate government interest of protecting public health” (p. 14). It also wrote:

While the Court has determined that a Temporary Injunction is appropriate to impose the restrictions detailed in Executive Order 20-99, the State acknowledges that it takes no joy in this enforcement action. The parties in this case understand the impossible choices that must be made and the emotional and financial toll imposed by these choices.

… However, Minnesota law provides the Governor with broad authority during peacetime emergencies. Governor Walz acted within his authority when he issued Executive Order 20-99. The Minnesota Legislature has the authority to terminate the peacetime emergency and has not done so. The temporary restrictions imposed by Executive Order 20-99 protect the legitimate state interest of protecting public health by limiting the spread of COVID-19. (p. 20)

On December 11, 2020, Attorney General Ellison’s office filed a lawsuit against Boardwalk Bar and Grill for multiple alleged violations of the temporary ban on on-premises dining in Executive Order 20-99, a targeted, four-week dial-back of certain activities to halt the spread of COVID-19. Executive Order 20-103 amended and extended the provisions of Executive Order 20-99 until January 10, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

“Yet another court has recognized the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the firm legal foundation of the State’s legitimate interest in putting a stop to it,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I thank the thousands of Minnesota bars and restaurants that have done the right thing and met their responsibility to their communities by continuing to follow the law. A handful are choosing to ignore their responsibility: by so doing, they’re simply extending the pain the pandemic has already wrought upon all of us.

“We’re continuing to seek voluntarily compliance from all establishments affected by the executive orders. Enforcement action is a last resort, but I will not hesitate to use it when I have no other choice to protect Minnesotans from this deadly virus,” Attorney General Ellison concluded.