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St Paul (KROC AM News) - Recent checks of bars and restaurants in several southern Minnesota cities to see if they were following COVID-19 executive orders found half were not in compliance.

The Minnesota Dept. of Health says compliance teams conducted checks in Mankato, St. Peter, Waseca, Faribault, and New Ulm August 28 and 29. They checked establishments in Carver and Scott counties September 4 and 5.

The teams checked a total of 167 businesses and had these results:

  • 88 establishments were observed following the safety and health requirements.
  • 79 bars and restaurants were not in compliance, with one or more minor violations.
  • Of those not in compliance, 31 bars and restaurants were referred for follow-up inspections by MDH and DLI for issues such as customers and workers not wearing masks when required, failure to maintain social distancing, and a lack of COVID-19 Preparedness Plans and worker training.

MDH says inspectors observed that in some situations, businesses were making efforts to follow guidance requirements, but customers were not doing their part and were jeopardizing the operations of those bars and restaurants.

“We applaud the efforts of the many establishments and customers doing the right things and protecting workers and the public,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We know the past six months have been tough for Minnesota’s bars and restaurants and we also know that if proper precautions are not followed in these settings, the result can be accelerated spread of COVID-19 in the community. These enforcement efforts are aimed at ensuring that the minority of businesses that are not following the guidelines bring their establishments into compliance.”

Her department has received more than 800 complaints of violations at restaurants and bars and has referred more than half of them to various agencies since July 13. Fifty bars and restaurants met the definition for a COVID-19 outbreak by the end of August.

When bars and restaurants are found to not be in compliance, state officials work to educate them, bring them into compliance and if necessary, elevate to enforcement action. State agencies have assisted thousands of businesses since the pandemic began.

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