Court finds The Interchange in contempt of court, orders restaurant to pay fine of $3K per day

Published 9:18 pm Friday, January 8, 2021

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A Freeborn County District Court has found The Interchange of Albert Lea in contempt of court for violating the court’s temporary restraining order that required the establishment to temporarily close to indoor, on-premises dining in light of Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders.

The court ordered The Interchange to pay a fine of $3,000 per day each day that it is open for indoor dining in violation of the executive orders and temporary injunction, effective today, a press release from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office stated. The court also noted that the recently issued Executive Order 21-01  permitted opening for indoor dining with restrictions, and ordered that The Interchange comply with future executive orders, as previously required by the court’s temporary restraining order.

Regarding  The Interchange’s repeated objections that executive orders are not laws, the court noted that Gov. Tim Walz had properly issued its executive orders last year under Minnesota law.

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The Attorney General’s Office stated under Minnesota law the governor’s executive orders issued during a peacetime emergency have “the full force and effect of law” when ratified by the Executive Council, of which Attorney General Ellison is a member.

“I’m glad to see serious consequences for defying the court and endangering Minnesotans,” Ellison said. “The vast majority of Minnesota bars and restaurants are complying with the law and meeting their responsibility to keep their communities safe. The very small handful that are not should take note that their willful defiance has real-world consequences, as it should.”

Walz implemented the executive orders to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Interchange owner Lisa Hanson has described the executive orders as unlawful and unconstitutional.