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Instagram video sparks concern of COVID spread in Northland bars

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DULUTH, MN -- This week, bars and restaurants in Minnesota were able to open back up, but with restrictions in place.

Now, a video from one Duluth bar is circulating online and has community members and other businesses concerned.

The video that was shared on the Spurs on First Instagram account Thursday shows a crowded scene with little distancing and no masks.

The text on the video, originally posted by their resident DJ, reads "Feels great to be back! Missed all these crazy faces."

It's a post that's receiving a lot of backlash on social media.

A tweet, sharing the video, says they are not definitely not following guidelines.

And the frustration with Spurs doesn't end there.

We were contacted Friday by the owner of another Duluth bar, who says scenes like the one shared on Instagram are nothing new during the pandemic inside the college bar.

The concerned business owner shared with us, what she says, are photos from inside the bar back in the fall.

They also show little distancing and few masks.

That bar owner said in a statement, "Unfortunately this pattern of hosting large groups of unmasked young people is not new."

Friday, we spoke on the phone with the owner of Spurs, who claims the Instagram video is old and that they are following state rules.

Whether or not that's true, the Minnesota Department of Health says they're seeing and hearing about other scenes like this at bars across the state.

"The health department is taking this seriously, and the whole state is taking this seriously, because this is a public health emergency," said Doug Schultz, Information Officer at MDH.

Schultz said that those who violate the law are not just risking their business, but could play a part in shutting the state back down.

"If our ICU's and hospitals fill up again, we may have to close restaurants again, we may have to close schools again, we may have to close youth sports again and we don't want to do that!" said Schultz.

We went over to Spurs around 8:30 p.m. Friday.

They did appear to be cooperating with state guidelines by handing out masks, roping off parts of the bar and requiring distancing.

Natalie Grant

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