MN AG Ellison Cracks Down on Indoor Dining Amid Extended Restrictions

BEAVER BAY, Minn.– Some Minnesota bars and restaurants did ignore Governor Tim Walz’s restrictions on indoor dining. None reported so far in northern Minnesota but one owner planned to defy the order, before Minnesota’s attorney general stepped in.

“You want us to close down, you want us to limit what we do, I’ve said it before, bills don’t stop,” said Mike Arriola, Owner of the Lemon Wolf Cafe in Beaver Bay, Minnesota.

A handful of bars and restaurants around Minnesota planned to defy governor’s new order barring indoor dining.

The group ‘Reopen Minnesota’ is leading the fight. They are made up of 150 businesses from around 50 counties throughout the state to push back against the governor’s lockdown.

“No one saw this coming and then suddenly everything shut down,” Darius Teichroew, a Spokesperson for Reopen Minnesota.

Those with reopen Minnesota did consider waiting the restrictions out but say the governor has lost the trust of these establishments.

When asked about the possibility of harsh enforcement from those at the capitol. Those with the group say they are willing to take on the risk to keep business going with their backs against the wall.

“But actually it just goes to show just how desperate they are that they’re willing to risk that just so that they can provide for their families and their employees,” said Teichroew.

That’s exactly what the state did. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is leading the effort against those who disobey the executive order.

One restaurant involved with reopen Minnesota is the lemon wolf cafe up in Beaver Bay.

Arriola said he was going to reopen the cafe’s dining room — that was until he received a call personally from the AG. Ellison said that Arriola needed to sign a document saying he would follow the governor’s orders or face action from the state.

“He told me if I didn’t sign the document or reply to the emails stating that i was going to shut my inside dining down, the inside dining,” said Arriola. “Fines or charges against me for not following the executive order.”

Arriola then signed the documents and will plan on keeping his service to curbside and take out. But after avoiding the hit from the government, he’s now facing another challenge.

His phone and Facebook page have blown up with criticism after seeing his cafe’s name associated with reopen Minnesota. With some calling the owner “selfish” or threats to never go to his establishment again for trying to defy the governor’s order.

“I don’t take the virus lightly,” said Ariolla. “If you call somebody selfish just trying to do right to pay their bills and provide for their family, I don’t see that as selfish.”

While it’s unclear what the road ahead will look like for restaurant and bar owners. Ariolla says he hopes he can have people eat inside soon.

“I don’t know how much longer I can go,” said he said. “Trying to be open and have the inside dining. I tried, it didn’t work. It’s ok, I’m just going to do what i need to do to try to stay open.”

Governor Walz signed into law on Wednesday a $216 million relief package to help struggling businesses like bars and restaurants during the pandemic.

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