Judge allows Minneapolis vaccine or test mandate to represent restaurants and bars

A Hennepin County judge has denied a request from a group of Minneapolis restaurant and bar owners asking the court to temporarily suspend enforcement of the city’s new requirement that customers show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test.

In a ruling filed Friday, Judge Laurie Miller rejected the seven business owners’ claim that the requirement would be so economically devastating that it must be immediately blocked as the lawsuit moves forward. their trial.

“The economic harm feared by the plaintiffs does not outweigh the city’s documented public health concerns,” Miller wrote. “The Court acknowledges that the pandemic has had a devastating economic impact on bars and restaurants, but the City cannot be held responsible for general business losses related to the pandemic.”

The judge called the business owners’ claims for loss of income due to the requirement “speculative”.

“Maybe some customers are staying away because they fear the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Maybe some customers are staying home due to the weather. Some customers may have chosen to stay away from the plaintiffs’ establishments solely because of their desire to avoid having to comply with (the requirement), but this was not indicated in the record before the Court,” Miller wrote.

Miller also said she doesn’t believe the business owners will ultimately succeed in their lawsuit, in which they argue that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey exceeded his legal authority in instituting the requirement and that there is no longer a COVID-19 emergency.

The lawsuit was brought by the owners of Gay 90’s, Sneaky Pete’s, Smack Shack, Urban Forage, Wild Greg’s Saloon, a Jimmy John’s franchisee and Bunker’s Music Bar & Grill, who said the demand was an “abuse of power of the mayor” and puts an unfair charge for them.

“Minneapolis bars and restaurants are being used as pawns to advance Mayor Frey’s agenda to push and convince the public to get vaccinated,” reads their complaint. “May the desired end be noble, the program forces restaurants and bars to lose additional customers and business.”

Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter held a joint press conference earlier this month announcing identical orders, which took effect Jan. 19, saying they must implement the requirement to cope with an increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.

It requires customers to have completed a series of vaccines for COVID-19 or present a negative test result from a professional testing agency – home testing is not sufficient – ​​within the past 72 hours.

Other cities across the country, including New York, San Francisco and Chicago, have implemented similar mandates although they also face legal challenges.

Some Twin Cities businesses had already begun requiring customers to show their vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test before ordering Frey, including First Avenue, the Guthrie, Fair State Brewing and others.

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