- Thomas Hawk, Flickr Creative Commons
Just days after the owners of Michigan's Andiamo chain of Italian restaurants said they would back down from rebelling against the state's COVID-19 epidemic orders, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) ordered the liquor license and permits for its Warren location to be suspended due to violations.
The MLCC ordered emergency suspensions of the liquor licenses and permits about a week after owner Joe Vicari said he was changing course on calls for other restaurants to join him in defying the state's epidemic orders, which prohibit indoor dining.
"I don't want to disobey government orders. It's a losing situation," Vicari said during a Zoom meeting on Dec. 2. "There are some people who've convinced me to work with the administration and look for a compromise. That's what we're trying to do today."
But on Dec. 10, the MLCC issued emergency suspensions of the liquor licenses at the Andiamo Italia located at 7096 E. 14 Mile Rd. in Warren.
The MLCC issued "an emergency suspension order of its Class C liquor license and permits for Sunday Sales (P.M.), Dance-Entertainment, Additional Bar, and Catering," according to a statement from Michigan State Police.
It isn't clear which rules Andiamo had violated. According to the release, eight businesses across the state had their licenses and permits suspended for violations including "allowing non-residential, in-person gatherings; providing in-person dining; failure to require face coverings for staff and patrons; and failure to prohibit patrons from congregating."
"Licensees are strictly prohibited from allowing indoor gatherings, as defined by the MDHHS Gatherings and Face Mask Order, on their licensed premises," MSP said in a statement. "Further, these prohibited gatherings held without requiring patrons to wear face masks pose an immediate threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Allowing this activity to continue could create additional outbreaks of COVID-19."
In metro Detroit, Polski’s Pub & Grub located at 38730 Harper Ave. in Clinton Township also had its licenses and permits suspended.
The licensees are scheduled to appear before a judge on Dec. 18 for a virtual hearing via Zoom to determine whether the suspension should continue or other fines and penalties should be imposed.
On Dec. 14, Plaza Lanes located at 42001 Ann Arbor Rd. East in Plymouth Township also had its licenses suspended. Its license holder is scheduled to appear before a judge on Dec. 23.
The MLCC says it has suspended liquor licenses of a total of 21 businesses located throughout the state for COVID-19 violations since September.
Vicari called on other restaurants to join him in defying the state's COVID-19 restrictions in a letter sent last month. A group of local health experts responded with a letter of their own, calling Vicari "reckless."
"Data and evidence show that restaurants, bars, and cafes are places with the highest likelihood for COVID-19 transmissions, and as physicians, we urge these businesses to help reduce infections by following expert scientific advice so we can all do our part to help keep people safer," the physicians said.
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