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Albert Lea, MN (KROC-AM News) - A business in Albert Lea is being sued by the Minnesota Department of Health for operating without a license.

The Interchange was given notice of the health department's decision to suspend the wine bar's food and beverage licenses in December over violations of the COVID-19 restrictions ordered by the governor that limited bars and restaurants to only take out and delivery orders. The lawsuit seeks sanctions against the owner for continuing to operate without an active restaurant license.

The Department of Health has also filed a lawsuit against a restaurant in Milaca called the King Sparrow Coffee and Soda Shop. It is also accused of remaining open even after its food and beverage license was suspended.

“Our preference is always to work with facilities to bring them into compliance, but we owe it to the vast majority of businesses that follow the rules to have accountability for those who do not,” said MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff. “The public depends upon the licensing of bars and restaurants as a basic public health measure, which is why the legislature requires that bars and restaurants have an active license in order to serve the public. With the added risks of COVID-19 transmission, it is even more critical to ensure all establishments are in compliance.”

The Albert Lea business is also facing a five-year suspension of its liquor license through an action taken by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and was previously named in a lawsuit filed by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison for failing to comply with the governor's executive orders.

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