Michigan diner owner jailed over virus rules plans to reopen

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Marlena Pavlos-Hackney sits in the courtroom during her arraignment, Friday March, 19, 2021, at the 30th Judicial Circuit Court in Lansing, Mich. Pavlos-Hackney, a western Michigan restaurant owner, was arrested before dawn Friday and hauled to jail, a dramatic turn in a monthslong dispute over her persistent refusal to comply with orders and restrictions tied to the coronavirus. Pavlos-Hackney, 55, will remain in jail until she pays $7,500 and authorities confirm that Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland, Mich., is closed, a judge said. (Nicole Hester/Ann Arbor News via AP)

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan restaurant owner who flouted COVID-19 restrictions and spent four nights in jail in March said she plans to reopen in a few weeks.

The food license yanked from Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland has been restored, Marlena Pavlos-Hackney said.

Signs posted on Marlena Pavlos-Hackney’s closed restaurant, Marlena’s Bistro & Pizzeria, in Holland on Monday, March 22, 2021. Pavlos-Hackney was arrested for operating without a business license and defying state COVID-19 health orders. The Michigan Republican Party views her punishment as the latest front in a war against government overreach. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

“I’m grateful, but my fight isn’t finished yet,” Pavlos-Hackney said, referring to an appeal of earlier court decisions that landed her behind bars.

Pavlos-Hackney became the face of defiance over enforcement of virus-related restrictions. She continued to welcome indoor diners, despite state and local orders, and ignored other rules aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Customers filled tables and held rallies outside the restaurant to support her. Republican Sen. Tom Barrett called Pavlos-Hackney “Michigan’s first political prisoner of the pandemic.”

Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who put Pavlos-Hackney in jail, said she had put the community at risk.

Hundreds of people gather in front of on Marlena’s Bistro in Holland in support of the owner Marlena Pavlos-Hackney on Saturday March 20, 2021. (Nicole Hester/Mlive.com/Ann Arbor News via AP)

The restaurant could be open again by Sept. 21. It has been closed since March.

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