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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - An Albert Lea business has joined the list of Minnesota bars and restaurants being targeted for regulatory action by state health officials.

The Minnesota Department of Health today announced it has issued a cease and desist order to the operators of The Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro for violations of the state's COVID restrictions and regulations. A news release says the bar was observed open and serving customers indoors on Wednesday.

The Health Department has also issued a cease and desist order to a Lakeville business that is among two bars named in lawsuits by the Minnesota Attorney General's Office on Thursday. State health officials say photos have been posted by news media organizations showing a large number of customers being served inside the Alibi Drinkery yesterday.

“COVID-19 protocols are designed to slow the spread of this virus and reduce the impacts of this pandemic,” said MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff. “Our preference is always to work with business to bring them into compliance, and we consider regulatory actions as a last resort. The vast majority of businesses are doing their best to help slow down the spread of COVID-19, and we owe it to them to have a consistent and fair enforcement approach.”

Around 150 Minnesota bars and restaurants have signed an online pledge indicating they intend to open this weekend in violation of the most recent COVID pandemic executive order issued by Governor Tim Walz.

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