MARSHALL — COVID-19 restrictions on Minnesota bars and restaurants may have loosened, but a lawsuit against a Lynd restaurant is still not resolved.
At a Friday morning hearing, the attorney representing Haven’s Garden restaurant said he wanted a chance to cross-examine witnesses in the case. The judge said she would consider that request and make a ruling by the end of the day Tuesday.
Last week, attorneys representing the Minnesota Department of Health said they wanted a chance to meet with Haven’s Garden owner Larvita McFarquhar about possibly following Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders affecting restaurants. The MDH sued Haven’s Garden after it opened for indoor dining in defiance of executive orders in place at that time.
A Ramsey County judge granted a temporary restraining order to prevent indoor dining at the restaurant. The judge later ruled McFarquhar was in civil contempt of court for continuing to allow indoor dining at Haven’s Garden. In December, McFarquhar said Haven’s garden would still be open for indoor dining, despite being fined $250 a day for doing so.
As of Jan. 22, Haven’s Garden had been assessed a total of $8,500 in $250 fines, Minnesota court records said.
A looser set of restrictions, which allows indoor dining at reduced capacity, went into effect this month.
Assistant Attorney General Kaitrin Vohs said the MDH had a discussion with McFarquhar about the COVID-19 restrictions. Vohs said McFarquhar didn’t appear to have a COVID-19 preparedness plan like current executive orders require, and has not given written certification that her business will follow future executive orders.
Vohs said the state was asking for higher fines against Haven’s Garden.
However, Haven’s Garden attorney Nathan Hansen said he wanted to have in-person testimony from witnesses to support the MDH’s case.
McFarquhar also read a statement saying the executive orders were an abuse of power by Walz, and that they violated constitutional rights.
“To bully, threaten and harass law-abiding businesses is a disgrace,” McFarquhar said.
Judge Sara Grewing said she would take the requests under advisement. Grewing said she would issue a ruling on the matter by the end of the business day on Tuesday.