A tobacco shop owner and a suspected drunken driver are among six people newly charged with violating Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 executive orders.
A total of 67 cases have been charged since March for violating Walz’s orders requiring Minnesotans to stay home, and for restaurants and bars to suspend dine-in service.
The stay-at-home order also prohibited nonessential businesses from operating. On April 30, Walz extended the order until May 18, allowing previously shuttered retailers to begin curbside or delivery services this month.
The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Some of the new cases — and several previous cases — included instances where the violation was tacked onto other offenses or more serious charges, a practice criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and the Legal Rights Center.
Here are the six new cases, according to charges:
• Eagan police received a call on April 22 that United Tobacco & Vape was open. Police saw four people walk to the back of the store. They later told police they had received a text message from the store. The store owner, a Fridley man, was charged. Tobacco shops had been ordered to close.
“Defendant stated he was frustrated with being one of the only closed businesses and did not think it was fair,” the charges said.
• An Arden Hills woman and an Oakdale woman were cited by Roseville police.
“Committing criminal activity in the close confines of a compact sedan with people who do not reside together is not permitted per the executive order,” said the citations, which did not elaborate.
• A North St. Paul man was cited along with drunken driving charges, having a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.08, having no car insurance and driving after revocation. A North St. Paul police officer stopped him for a hit-and-run. He allegedly had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.20 and said he had been drinking at his cousin’s house.
• A Staples man was cited in addition to facing a charge of felony domestic abuse, violating an order for protection.
• A Duluth man was cited along with charges of fourth-degree damage to property, trespassing and unlawful deposit of garbage.
He and three others trespassed in a nearly million-dollar house in Grand Marais dubbed the “concrete mansion” and spray-painted the walls inside, the charges said.