Ellison pledges to hold businesses that defy COVID-19 restrictions accountable

Customers pack Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Photo: KSTP/Jim O'Connell. Customers pack Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020.

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: December 16, 2020 08:06 PM
Created: December 16, 2020 07:37 PM

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday night pledged that his office will hold all businesses that violate Gov. Tim Walz's COVID-19 restrictions accountable.

Walz announced an extension of restrictions to begin on Saturday, although they're slightly eased compared to the past four weeks.

"My job and my duty is to protect Minnesotans," Ellison said. "People like to ask, what is the Attorney General going to do? What they should be asking is, what is coronavirus going to do? Coronavirus is deadly and it's continuing to spread: it doesn't care who you are or where you live, where you work or where you let off steam. You're not immune from it and your loved ones aren't either. No one is."

Ellison added that the state's approach has been to educate and get people to voluntarily comply with the order but those who don't will face enforcement measures.

"I also want to say to the vast majority of Minnesota businesses that are making sacrifices to comply with the law and keep their customers, employees, and communities safe that I see you and I thank you. You deserve our gratitude," Ellison said. "You do not deserve unfair competition from those who are not doing their part."

Group releases list of Minnesota businesses planning on reopening in defiance of Walz's order

A Facebook group on Wednesday released a list of about 150 businesses that they said would defy the governor's order and open for in-person dining this week — some of which opened Wednesday — but Ellison said about 40% of those businesses listed can already operate legally and aren't violating the order, and some are anonymous. About 20 others have contacted Ellison's office to show they are still complying with the law and aren't open for in-person services. Ellison said his office is still investigating the remaining businesses.

Ellison and the Minnesota Department of Health said businesses that refuse to comply with the order can be fined, face civil penalties of up to $25,000 per violation or lose things like liquor licenses.

Ellison noted that 14 cases have been filed against the executive orders since the pandemic began and the state has won every motion to dismiss those cases.

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