UPDATE: Governor Walz has announced that bars and restaurants will remain closed to indoor, in-person service as part of his Wednesday afternoon press event. References in this story to an upcoming announcement are due to this story being written before the official announcement Wednesday afternoon. You can read more on the Governor's new executive order here.

Original Story: 

While Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is expected to extend the restrictions on in-person service at bars and restaurants Wednesday afternoon, a group of about 150 businesses around the state have announced they plan to defy these orders.

The current order that has closed Minnesota bars, restaurants, fitness facilities, and entertainment venues is set to expire on December 18. Reports state that Walz intends to extend the closure of bars and restaurants to in-person dining through the remainder of 2020 with a change - outdoor service could be allowed.

Other changes expected include a reopening of gym and fitness facilities with greater social distancing guidelines and an expansion of group gatherings to allow for 15 people rather than the currently-imposed person limit. There is also expected to be guidance on in-person education for Minnesota students and other items.

We'll know for sure what the plan is on Wednesday afternoon, but reports ahead of previous formal announcements have been pretty accurate to date.

In the face of these continued indoor in-person service closures for bars and restaurants, about 150 businesses across the state have joined together in a coalition called 'ReOpen Minnesota'. These businesses say they play to defy orders from Governor Walz and reopen their businesses to in-person service regardless of the Governor's order.

The coalition shared via their Facebook page on Tuesday night a list of businesses that plan to open through the course of this week. The post says many of the listed businesses intend on opening Wednesday, with the rest planning to open "stretching into the weekend".

Among that list of businesses from around the state are 12 Northland businesses. The Facebook page for ReOpen Minnesota explains that some of the businesses on this list have chosen to exclude their name from the document they shared, saying "The blank names are those that are choosing to remain anonymous in this broader promotion but advertising with their local community."

Of the 12 Northland businesses, 7 of them opted not to be identified on the list. Here is a breakdown:

  • Bricks Pub & Grub in Carlton County
  • Rendezvous Sports Bar and Grill in Carlton County
  • Two other unidentified bars/restaurants in Carlton County
  • Lemon Wolf Cafe in Cook County
  • Two unidentified bars/restaurants in Itasca County
  • One unidentified bar/restaurant in Lake County
  • The Hydeaway in St. Louis County
  • The Shack in St. Louis County
  • Board & Brush - Duluth in St. Louis County
  • One other unidentified bar/restaurant in St. Louis County

As KSTP TV reports, the state government is cracking down on businesses not following the executive order. One of the businesses identified is Boardwalk Bar and Grill in East Grand Forks. At the end of last week, Attorney General Keith Ellison's office filed a temporary restraining order against Boardwalk Bar and Grill. Following this action last Friday, the Department of Public Safety suspended the business's liquor license. There have been a handful of others that have received fines or other actions for not following the executive order. 

Attorney General Ellison shared a statement on the subject of businesses defying these orders, saying he gets "no happiness out of enforcing the order, but my duty to protect Minnesotans from the deadliest global pandemic in a century demands it."

Governor Walz's announcement on the next steps for Minnesota will be made at 1:15 Wednesday afternoon (December 16) in a press conference.

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