A Lake Shore breakfast restaurant was shut down for not complying with the statewide mask mandate, the business reported on social media, before reopening two days later.

The Iron Waffle Coffee Co., on Interlachen Road, posted Aug. 7 about its temporary closure.

“We have been shut down for not abiding by or enforcing the Mask Mandate. We will keep our page updated with when we will be opening back up!” the Facebook post stated.

On Aug. 8, the business reported it would reopen as normal the next morning, with no further mention of the action it says was taken concerning the mandate. A separate post made by the group “Recall Governor Tim Walz” reported the reopening was in defiance of the order.

A sign was posted on the door of the Iron Waffle, as seen here Thursday Aug. 13, in Lake Shore. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
A sign was posted on the door of the Iron Waffle, as seen here Thursday Aug. 13, in Lake Shore. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

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“Iron Waffle Coffee Company was targeted by the illegal state mandates from Dictator Walz and the secret mask police of Keith Ellison, and closed for a ‘mandatory mask violation,’” the Monday, Aug. 10, post stated. “No warning, no compliance visit, just a shut down notice. They have employees with health issues that prohibit masks (which are specifically excluded in the Walz mask orders) but they were ordered closed anyways.

“Owners Stacy and Jeremiah believe they were illegally shutdown not only by an illegal mask order from Walz, but by an illegal application of the mask order as written and will be open for business … tomorrow in defiance of Walz and Keith Ellison.”

Iron Waffle owners Stacy Stranne and Jeremiah Duvall did not return requests for comment. Duvall, however, commented with his personal account a number of times on the business’ Facebook posts about the situation.

“So we were shut down because we were not going to Make a Stand one way or another ! Customers and employees can make their own choice whether they want to wear masks or not at are privately owned business.. Not our right to infringe on someone's freedom of choice whether they work for us or not.. thank everyone !” one comment stated.

The Iron Waffle, which sits off of Interlachen Road in Lake Shore, is closed Thursday, Aug. 13, for a staff appreciation day. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
The Iron Waffle, which sits off of Interlachen Road in Lake Shore, is closed Thursday, Aug. 13, for a staff appreciation day. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Doug Schultz, public information officer with the Minnesota Department of Health, said the state agency has issued three cease and desist orders recently for establishments within its jurisdiction. He said two of those three brought themselves into compliance and the investigations are now closed — Norm’s Wayside in Buffalo and El Charro in Farmington. But Schultz said he could not disclose the name of the third establishment because the enforcement action was still in progress.

A cease and desist order is the final step for the health department, Schultz said, if a business refuses to comply. This goes for violations of all health and safety regulations the state agency oversees, not only those related to COVID.

“Most businesses are trying to do the right thing and are just confused about how a particular rule or requirement applies in their situation or may lack the resources at the time to implement,” Schultz stated in an email. “But eventually, most businesses come into compliance. This is true for non-COVID times as well as the current environment.”

The health department issued a statement Friday regarding enforcement of the executive orders.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing its impacts on Minnesota’s economy requires all of us to do our part. This includes following rules and guidance designed to reduce disease transmission and allow businesses to operate more safely during the pandemic,” the statement read. “State officials have a responsibility to fairly and consistently uphold rules implemented to reduce transmission of the disease. We always first seek to work with parties to help them come into compliance, but we owe it to all Minnesotans, to not allow willful violators to disregard or endanger the health of their employees, neighbors and community members. This is only fair to the majority of businesses that do comply.”

Among the requirements are to require workers to wear masks at all times and patrons to wear masks except when eating or drinking or in other limited situations.

“We urge all Minnesotans to follow state guidelines and requirements so our businesses can operate as safely as possible, our economy can stay as open as possible, and together we can reduce the pain of this pandemic,” the statement further read.

Other business impacts

Shep’s on 6th announced a temporary closure Wednesday due to possible exposure to COVID-19 by employees outside of the establishment, the downtown Brainerd bar posted on Facebook. On Friday, the business stated employee test results were back and all tested negative, so the bar would reopen that night.

Mission Tavern, on Southwest Horseshoe Lake Road in Mission Township, closed Aug. 8 due to confirmed COVID-19 exposure, according to its Facebook page. The business updated its followers Friday, noting plans to reopen sometime in the upcoming week.

“We’ve been busy cleaning and sanitizing the Tavern to get ready to open the doors again sometime next week. We are looking forward to seeing our customers faces again once the coast is clear,” the post stated.

The restaurant at The Woods, b*merri Gastro Pub, reopened Tuesday, Aug. 11, after closing its doors July 30 due to someone associated with the property testing positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus. Two Ossipee businesses — Valeri Ann’s Family Foods and Grandpa’s General Store — remained closed as of Friday. The owner of Valeri Ann’s and her husband tested positive, and Grandpa’s General Store reported exposure to COVID-19 through a maskless customer.

Case numbers

Cass County reported a third death due to complications from COVID-19 Friday. An 81-year-old man died Aug. 7, according to county officials. The county saw nine new cases this week.

In Crow Wing County, 37 new cases were added to the statistics between Aug. 7-14, with a 14-day total of new cases at 67. While cases appeared to slightly slow in the early part of the week, the county’s total jumped by 14 new cases Friday.

According to data provided by the county, the 19- to 29-year-old age group saw the most new cases in the past week with eight. But new cases were reported in every age range over the week, from 0-18 up through 90-99.

COVID-19 data as of Aug. 14

  • Aitkin — 42 (+7 since Aug. 7), with one death.

  • Cass — 79 (+9), with three deaths (+1).

  • Crow Wing — 265 (+37), with 14 deaths.

  • Mille Lacs — 73 (+4), with three deaths.

  • Morrison — 97 (+12), with one death.

  • Todd — 431 (+9), with two deaths.

  • Wadena — 28 (+3).

NOTE: These numbers are cumulative since March 21 and many are likely out of isolation. The number of those no longer needing isolation is not reported on a county-level basis by the state.