Restaurant owners call for Michigan Governor to ‘be punished’ for violating her own COVID-19 guidelines

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer is under fire for violating her own COVID-19 guidelines last Saturday, when she went to a pizzeria and sat at a table with 12 people, exceeding the state limit of 6 people to a table, and tables being 6 feet apart.

Whitmer has issued a public apology, admitting her mistake and in a statement issued last Sunday she said, “Yesterday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t stop to think about it. In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize.” Michigan has experienced some of the country’s strongest backlash to mask mandates and other restrictions put into place since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. After Whitmer’s slip-up last weekend, some local restaurant owners are speaking out in favor of punishing the governor the same way many of them have been punished for violating COVID restrictions in their restaurants.

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The owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland, Michigan, Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, took to Fox News this week to blast the governor. Pavlos-Hackney spent 4 nights in jail and paid a $15,000 fine earlier this year for skirting mask mandates and capacity restrictions. She was ordered to close down her restaurant and her business license was suspended until her fines were paid, but Pavlos-Hackney ignored the court order and kept the restaurant open anyway.

State agencies have attempted to work with Pavlos-Hackney to bring health practices up to par and reinstate her license, but the restaurateur has refused to work with the agencies or make any necessary changes in order to reopen. Instead, she has taken to several conservative news outlets to voice her grievances against Whitmer.

On Fox News this week, Pavlos-Hackney called for equal punishment for the governor, saying “I feel like all of us should be on the same page. If I have to face penalties which I went through … I think she should face the same penalties. We the people, we [are] all equal. It does not matter [that] because you’re the governor, we need to forgive you.”

Whitmer has publicly pointed out the difference between an establishment blatantly violating public health orders than a singular citizen making an error in judgment. She added that state officials have only punished restaurants that were “flouting” the rules and putting the public at risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. The restrictions Whitmer violated, and other COVID restrictions, will be lifted in the state of Michigan on June 1.



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