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King Sparrow Coffee & Soda Shop in Milaca was one of three establishments that received cease-and-desist orders and license suspension notices after violating executive orders designed to protect Minnesotans, the Minnesota Department of Health stated in a news release Tuesday.

The MDH also announced it had issued cease-and-desist orders and notices of license suspension to Joe’s Diner in East Grand Forks and Big Orv’s in Adrian, after determining those facilities had violated executive orders designed to protect employees, customers, and communities from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-99 on Nov. 18. The executive order prohibits bars and restaurants from offering on-premises dining.

The executive order was issued at a time of rapid acceleration in the spread of COVID-19 across Minnesota and sought to protect Minnesotans while also preventing hospitals and health care systems from becoming overwhelmed by the surge in cases.

As of Dec. 18, at 11:59 p.m., restaurants and bars could resume outdoor dining at 50% capacity, with a maximum of 100 people, with some additional restrictions.

While up to five customers at a time may step inside briefly to pick up takeout, indoor dining remains closed to the public.

On Dec. 18, MDH inspected King Sparrow in Milaca. During the inspection, MDH staff found the establishment was open for on-site food and beverage service, and allowing more than five customers indoors to pick up takeout at one time, in violation of Executive Order 20-99, the news release stated.

Employees were observed working without masks, in violation of Executive Order 20-81. A cease-and-desist order and license suspension notice were served on Monday, Dec. 28.

King Sparrow is located at 1000 Fifth St. S.E in Milaca.

According to MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff, enforcement actions are a last resort when it is clear that education and outreach are not sufficient to help a regulated establishment come into compliance with requirements.

“COVID-19 protocols are designed to slow the spread of this virus and reduce the impacts of this pandemic,” Huff stated in the news release. “Our preference is always to work with businesses 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.”

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