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These businesses violated Massachusetts COVID-19 rules. Then the state gave them $1.4 million.

Erin Clark/Globe Staff
Mardi Gras, a strip club in Springfield, received a grant of $75,000 despite its COVID violations. –Erin Clark / The Boston Globe

Inside a Springfield strip club raided a year earlier by the FBI, state inspectors found maskless strippers giving lap dances. Over in Gardner, a hotel was slapped with thousands of dollars in fines for hosting an estimated 420 people for a pair of August weddings. A Weymouth bar owner, confronted by licensing officials about various COVID-19 violations, retorted that “no government is going to tell me how to run my business.”

Since the summer, these and other businesses’ violations of Governor Charlie Baker’s coronavirus orders were so egregious, regulators said, they temporarily lost their liquor licenses. But the Baker administration also determined they deserved something else: coveted COVID relief grants, even as thousands of other businesses have yet to see their applications fulfilled.

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In fact, of the 57 restaurants, bars, and others whose liquor licenses the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission suspended over COVID-19 breaches, 23 — or 40 percent — also received small business grants, totaling nearly $1.4 million.

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