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Additional Minnesota bar defies COVID-19 restrictions

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota public safety officials have issued another liquor license suspension notice as more businesses are defying Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order barring indoor service at restaurants and bars to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Mission Tavern in Merrifield received a cease-and-desist order from the Minnesota Department of Health late last month for serving customers indoors in violation of the governor’s executive order. The restaurant complied by closing its doors — but then reopened last week, prompting another cease-and-desist order and a $10,000 fine from state health officials. The state says the business has continued to remain open for indoor service.

The Crow Wing County business is the latest to reopen in defiance of Walz’s order after Minnesota Attorney General filed lawsuits against two businesses on Thursday. Mission Tavern faces a 60-day suspension of its liquor license pending a hearing before a judge, and could have its license revoked for five years should the restaurant violate the order again.

Minnesota health officials on Friday reported 2,737 new coronavirus cases and 65 deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 391,889 cases and 4,723 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Minnesota dropped over the past two weeks, going from 6,331.86 new cases per day on Dec. 3 to 3,136.14 new cases per day on Dec. 17, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The number of new daily cases has also declined in recent weeks after explosive case growth late last month, though that decline has coincided with a decline in testing.