Three restaurants in outstate Minnesota received cease-and-desist orders and license suspensions from the state Department of Health for violating Gov. Tim Walz's latest executive order on COVID-19 restrictions.

Health Department officials announced Tuesday that they were taking action against Joe's Diner in East Grand Forks, King Sparrow in Milaca and Big Orv's in Adrian.

Walz's order on Nov. 18 prohibited bars and restaurants from dining on site. Since Dec. 19, bars and restaurants could resume outdoor dining at half their capacity, for up to 100 people. Indoor dining remained closed, and no more than five people can be inside briefly to pick up takeout food.

State health inspectors on Dec. 17 found that Joe's Diner was open for dining on the premises and lacked signs reminding customers to wear masks. A follow-up visit on Dec. 22 found no changes, leading to violation notices issued Saturday.

Inspectors looked at King Sparrow in Milaca on Dec. 18, found it was open for on-site dining and that it allowed more than five customers at a time inside for takeout food. Employees also were working without masks. Violation notices were issued Monday.

Health inspectors at Big Orv's in Adrian on Dec. 21 found that it was open for beverage consumption on-site and saw a customer not wearing a mask. Violation notices were served Monday.

"COVID-19 protocols are designed to slow the spread of this virus and reduce the impacts of this pandemic," Assistant Health Commissioner Dan Huff said in a statement. "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."