Court finds The Interchange in contempt of court, imposes $3K/day fine

Court finds The Interchange in contempt of court, imposes $3K/day fine
A Freeborn County District Court has found an Albert Lea restaurant in contempt of court and has imposed a $3,000 per day fine. (Source: Raycom Media)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) — A Freeborn County District Court has found an Albert Lea restaurant in contempt of court and has imposed a $3,000 per day fine.

The Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro was found in contempt of court for willfully violating the court’s temporary restraining order that required the establishment to temporarily close to indoor, on-site dining and to abide by Gov. Tim Walz’s Executive Orders 20-99 and 20-103.

Effective Friday, The Interchange will be ordered to pay a fine of $3,000 per day each day that it remains open for indoor dining in violation of the executive orders and temporary injunction.

Because Executive Order 21-01 will allow businesses in the hospitality industry to permit indoor, on-site dining beginning at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, the court is also requiring The Interchange to comply with future executive orders.

“I’m glad to see serious consequences for defying the court and endangering Minnesotans,” Attorney General 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.”

The court acknowledged The Interchange’s repeated objections that executive orders are not laws and added that Walz had properly issued Executive Order 20-99 and 20-103 under Minnesota law.

Furthermore, the court states that “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.”

Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office sued The Interchange on Dec. 21 for openly violating the temporary ban on indoor, on-site dining in Executive Order 20-99. On Dec. 22, the Attorney General’s office moved for a temporary restraining order to prevent The Interchange from further violating the order and to compel them to comply with Executive Order 20-99 and any future applicable executive orders.

The court granted the temporary restraining order on Dec. 23. The court then ordered that The Interchange was prevented, restrained and enjoined from taking any action violating Executive Orders 20-99 and 20-103, and that it shall fully comply with the orders and any future applicable executive orders.

The Interchange has reportedly remained open in defiance of the order since Dec. 23.

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