AG: Holland restaurant owner who flouted dine-in ban ‘disregarded the law’

Allegan County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says the case of a Holland restaurant owner who could be jailed because she ignored a state-mandated shutdown is about more than just COVID-19 mitigation restrictions.

“Let’s step outside of the COVID world for a minute. We have so many regulations on food safety and the health and safety or restaurants and it’s incredibly important. What if we disregarded all other rules that kept us safe from things like salmonella or other types of issues that could seriously impact our health?” Nessel, whose office is prosecuting the case, told News 8 Sunday in a Zoom call. “We want restaurants to comply because we want to make safe that we’re safe when we eat in those places. It’s incredibly important. And it’s unfortunate that the owner of this restaurant decided to completely disregard the law.”

A judge this week issued a bench warrant for Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria on Lincoln Avenue near US-31. She kept her restaurant open despite the most recent dine-in ban and even after her license was suspended in January.

The courts got involved when the Allegan County Health Department said a person who ate at Marlena’s Bistro came down with coronavirus. According to the Holland Sentinel, the judge acknowledged it’s impossible to prove where that person caught it, though the connection is concerning and the restaurant should have been following restrictions regardless.

When News 8 spoke to Pavlos-Hackney earlier this week, she had not been arrested and said she was “in the process of figuring out my legal rights” and vowed to keep her restaurant open.

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