MDH takes action against Mission Tavern in Crow Wing County; restaurant faces $10K penalty, license suspension

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Wednesday that it has taken a series of enforcement actions against Mission Tavern, a restaurant located in Merrifield, for repeated violations of requirements designed to protect the establishment’s employees, customers and community from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-99 on Nov. 18, which prohibits bars and restaurants from offering on-premises dining. The executive order was issued at a time of rapid acceleration in the spread of COVID-19 across Minnesota and sought to protect Minnesotans while also preventing hospitals and health care systems from becoming overwhelmed by the surge in cases.

According to MDH, the Mission Tavern had allowed on-site consumption on Nov. 25 in violation of the order. In response, the department issued a cease-and-desist order on Nov. 30.

However, Mission Tavern again reopened on-site dining on Dec. 11, and MDH issued another cease-and-desist order.

Due to the repeated and willful nature of the establishment’s non-compliance, the department also issued a $10,000 administrative penalty and a license suspension notice.

"We’ve said many times that we look at regulatory actions as a last resort," MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff said. "COVID-19 has impacted all of us, including small business owners. Despite those challenges, the vast majority are doing their best to help slow down the spread of the virus. They recognize that operating out of compliance with COVID-related requirements can put at risk the health of employees and customers, as demonstrated again today when Minnesota reported another 92 deaths. We owe it to those businesses to have a consistent and fair enforcement approach for those requirements."