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Hennepin County judge denies Minneapolis restaurants' request for temporary restraining order against mandate

According to court documents, a Hennepin County judge ruled that the potential economic harm doesn't outweigh the possible health concerns surrounding the pandemic.

MINNEAPOLIS — A Hennepin County judge has denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented the the City of Minneapolis from enforcing a mandate that requires patrons show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or a recent negative test to enter most bars and restaurants.

A group of nine restaurants filed the lawsuit against the city and Mayor Jacob Frey, calling the mandate a "misuse of mayoral power." In the lawsuit, the group was asking for a temporary restraining order, however, that request was denied on Jan. 28, 2022.

According to court documents, Hennepin County Judge Laurie J. Miller ruled that the potential economic harm doesn't outweigh the possible health concerns surrounding the pandemic.

"The Court recognizes that the pandemic has had a devastating economic impact on bars and restaurants, but the City cannot be held responsible for general pandemic-related business 9 losses," Judge Miller wrote. "The Court commends Plaintiffs for their ability to continue operating through the pandemic, surmounting all the challenges they have faced over the past two years."

Judge Miller added that there wasn't enough evidence linking the economic loss to the mandate.

"To the extent that sales may have dropped recently from one week to the next, however, Plaintiffs have not submitted evidence, other then their own opinions, to identify the reason for that drop in sales," Judge Miller wrote. "Perhaps some patrons are staying away because they fear the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Perhaps some patrons are staying home due to the weather. Perhaps some patrons have chosen to stay away from Plaintiffs’ establishments solely due to their desire to avoid having to comply with (the mandate), but that has not been shown on the record before the Court."

According to the mandate, which went into effect on Jan. 19, 2022, it will expire after 40 days or "at the end of the declared local public health emergency." St. Paul issued a similar mandate that also went into effect on Jan. 19, 2022.

Greg Urban with Urban Companies, which was one of the companies suing the city, released the statement in response to the ruling:

The city of Minneapolis continues to follow the political science that has turned a vibrant and prosperous city into a ghost town. Although the TRO was not granted the lawsuit will continue and we believe we will be successful in overturning this example of government overreach.

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