Mission Tavern facing $10,000 administrative penalty and license suspension due to repeated non-compliance with Executive Order 20-99

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Dec. 16 announced it has taken a series of enforcement actions against Mission Tavern, a restaurant in Merrifield, Minn., for repeated violations of requirements designed to protect the restaurant’s employees, customers and community from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-99 on November 18, 2020. The executive order prohibited 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.

MDH determined that Mission Tavern had allowed on-site consumption on November 25 in violation of Executive Order 20-99. In response, the department issued a cease-and-desist order on November 30 and the restaurant came into compliance with the order. Despite other restaurants in Crow Wing County doing their part to keep the community safe, Mission Tavern again put its employees and customers at risk and re-opened for on-site dining on December 11. MDH issued another cease-and-desist order. Due to the repeated and willful nature of the establishment’s non-compliance, MDH 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,” said MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff. “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.”

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