Michigan Judge Rejects Governor Whitmer Demand to Close Barber Shop

A Michigan judge denied an attempt by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration to immediately shut down an Owosso barbershop whose owner has been cutting hair in defiance of the governor’s coronavirus shutdown order.

The judge denied the state’s claim that the 77-year-old Karl Manke was to close his shop because he was allegedly in violation of Whitmer’s executive order  to shut down all non-essential businesses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“This is not only a big victory for Mr. Manke, but also for other small businesses,” she said. “Who else will open their doors?”

The state Attorney General lost in its effort to obtain a temporary restraining order, NBC 25 reported.

The A.G. said:

The Attorney General’s court action, filed on behalf of MDHHS, seeks to enforce the MDHHS Director’s Public Health Order that deemed Mr. Manke’s business an imminent danger to public health in light of the COVID 19 pandemic and directs him to immediately cease operations at his barbershop. The State is seeking to schedule a hearing as soon as possible.

The state claimed that Manke’s open business presents “clear public health dangers”.

The barber first reopened his shop last Monday because he said he could no longer survive without making an income. Manke told ABC 12 he reopened after unemployment benefits were denied three times.

The barber had been repeatedly fined for allegedly violating the shutdown orders, but supporters paid the fines. “I just couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do that,” Manke told radio host Steve Gruber about continuing to operate his business. “I don’t care really if I have to spend all of the money I’m making right now to pay my fine. It’s worth it,” he said.

He said he will only leave “if they drag me out in the street or Jesus comes.” Manke said he has fielded several calls from other barbers about what to do. “You have to have courage,” he said.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

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