West Michigan restaurateur arrested for refusing to follow COVID-19 orders

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Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 11:49 AM EDT
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HOLLAND, Mich. (WJRT) - A restaurateur in the Holland area was arrested early Friday for repeatedly violating COVID-19 restrictions and court orders, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.

Michigan State Police pulled over and arrested 55-year-old Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, the owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland, around 5:45 a.m. on an arrest warrant for contempt of court issued in Ingham County. 

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development suspended the food establishment license for Pavlos-Hackney’s restaurant on Jan. 20 after several violations of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions and orders. However, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the restaurant continued operating with no license since then.

A state administrative law judge upheld the license suspension on Feb. 11 and allowed it to continue.

Michigan State Police called Pavlos-Hackney on March 11 to advise her of the warrant out for her arrest and asked her to turn herself in to authorities by Thursday. She didn’t surrender to authorities and police arrested her early Friday.

“This owner has continued to willfully violate the state’s food laws, public health orders and the order of the court – a dangerous act that may have exposed dozens of diners and employees to the virus following the discovery that one of Marlena’s customers tested positive for the virus within two days of eating there,” said Nessel 

Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria is accused of failing to follow several state COVID-19 orders this year, including social distancing and face covering requirements. The Allegan County Health Department issued an advisory earlier this month after a diner tested positive for the illness two days after eating there.

“MDARD is particularly concerned because the potential exposure happened at a restaurant that refuses to comply with basic COVID-19 measures required by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services,” Nessel said.

Pavlos-Hackney was taken to the Ingham County Jail on Friday to await further court proceedings.

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