The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has suspended the license of an Owosso barber who refused to close his shop amid the state’s stay-at-home order during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Karl Manke, 77, reopened his barber shop on May 4 when the state’s stay-at-home order was scheduled to expire May 15. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has since extended the order to last through May 28.
Though Manke’s shop is deemed an “unessential business” under the governor’s executive orders, Manke claimed he needed to reopen to make money.
It was reported that clients from all around the state have visited Manke for a hair cut, lining up in crowds outside of his shop.
Manke claimed he kept his shop “safe” by wearing face coverings and having hand sanitizer available, but news outlets released videos of individuals crowding in and around the shop without face coverings or any social distancing protocols in place.
Michigan officials became concerned about public safety due to the lack of social distancing. Manke received several citations from officials requiring him to stop operating his business amid the stay-at-home orders.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a Health Protection Order against Manke on May 8, requiring Manke to close his business by May 11. When Manke refused to close his shop by the deadline, Nessel requested an order from the Shiawasee County Circuit Court to close the barber shop down.
“Based upon our present knowledge of COVID-19, businesses that require close contact – like Mr. Manke’s barbershop – present one of the highest risks for spreading the virus, not just to the city of Owosso, but to the state of Michigan as a whole,” Nessel said. “According to recent new stories, the shop has received visits from Ann Arbor, Saginaw, Detroit, Jackson and other areas.”
The Shiawasee court did not issue an order, allowing Manke to continue operating his business as of Monday.
LARA’s latest action against Manke suspends his license to cut hair, reestablishing that any business carried out by Manke is unlawful amid the state’s current orders.