Court orders issues $9K fine against The Interchange in Albert Lea |

Court orders issues $9K fine against The Interchange in Albert Lea

Updated: January 28, 2021 10:32 PM
Created: January 28, 2021 06:15 PM

(ABC 6 News) - In a ruling from the bench, a Freeborn County District Court has issued a fine of $9,000 against The Interchange Wine Bar & Bistro of Albert Lea. The fine is for violating the Court’s January 8, 2021 order that found The Interchange in contempt of court for willfully violating the Court’s December 23, 2020 temporary restraining order and imposed a fine of $3,000 a day for every day it continued to violate or threatened to violate applicable executive orders designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.  

Yesterday, The Interchange publicized on Facebook that it will hold an event on Friday, January 29 that will violate current Executive Order 21-01, which, among other requirements, mandates that bars, restaurants, and performance venues close for indoor, on-premises consumption of food and beverages by 10:00 pm and requires that restaurants only admit dine-in customers with reservations. For threatening to violate the executive order, The Interchange is in contempt of court. Accordingly, the Court imposed a fine of $3,000 a day for The Interchange’s violations of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

Also at today’s hearing, the Court converted its prior temporary restraining order into a temporary injunction. This requires The Interchange to fully comply with any and all current and future executive orders relevant to bars and restaurants for the duration of the State’s litigation against it. 

“It’s sad to see an establishment with so little concern for the health of its customers, employees, and community,” Attorney General Keith 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.”  

On December 21, Attorney General Ellison’s office sued The Interchange for openly violating the ban on indoor on-premises dining in Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-99. On Tuesday, December 22, the Attorney General’s office moved for a temporary restraining order to prevent The Interchange from further violating the order and to compel them to comply with the order and any future applicable executive orders. The court granted the temporary restraining order on December 23. The court ordered then that The Interchange was “prevented, restrained, and enjoined from taking any action violating” Executive Orders 20-99 and 20-103,” and that it “shall fully comply with” the orders and any future applicable executive orders.” On January 8, the court found The Interchange in civil contempt of court and ordered it to pay a $3,000 per day fine for each day it continued to violate any and all relevant executive orders. 

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