Albert Lea restaurant fined $9K by court for violating COVID-19 restrictions

Thursday, a Freeborn County District Court issued a fine of $9,000 against an Albert Lea restaurant for willfully and repeatedly violating COVID-19 restrictions.

According to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office, The Interchange Wine Bar & Bistro violated the court’s order that found the business in contempt of court for violating the state’s on-premises dining ban. Wednesday, The Interchange said on its Facebook page that it would hold an event on Friday that would violate current state restrictions.

Albert Lea restaurant found in contempt of court; $3,000 per day fine imposed

Due to the violation, the court fined the restaurant $3,000 per day for violations on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The court also converted its temporary restraining order into a temporary injunction, requiring The Interchange to fully comply with all executive orders while the state’s litigation is pending.

"It’s sad to see an establishment with so little concern for the health of its customers, employees, and community," Ellison said. "More than 2,500 households in Freeborn County alone have been hurt by the deadly COVID-19 virus — and as the number continues to rise, this establishment keeps breaking the law and the executive orders that are designed to prevent suffering and death. I will not hesitate to continue to use all the tools I have to keep Minnesotans safe."