Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer apologizes for comment that offended hair salon owners

Whitmer apologizes on ‘Mojo In The Morning’ radio show

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is under fire by salon owners for keeping their businesses closed. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer apologized to hair salon owners across the state for offending them when she said residents could “Google how to do a haircut” since the businesses would remain closed.

Michigan salon owner were furious at Whitmer for “disrespecting” them and refusing to reopen their businesses.

UPDATE: Whitmer hopes haircuts will be allowed in Michigan ‘in the coming days and weeks’

“I’d tell people if you’re like me and you need a haircut that desperately, a couple more weeks of this and we may be back in a place where we’re able to do that safely,” Whitmer said at the Monday press briefing. “If you’re one of those people going to Ohio, I hope and pray you are doing your part not to bring COVID-19 home, and that if you haven’t, Google how you do a haircut or throw your hair into a ponytail and get through the next couple of weeks so we can resume some of these things.”

Whitmer was on the “Mojo In The Morning” Thursday when a listener called on behalf of hairstylists.

He asked Whitmer if she would like to apologize for suggesting that instead of driving to Ohio, residents could just Google how to do a haircut themselves.

“I made an offhand comment that if you needed a trim, you can Google it," Whitmer said. "I didn’t mean to offend people who are in that profession. I think that is important. I think that it is licensed for a reason. These are professionals who take it seriously and intimately interact with the public and that’s why we have to take this very seriously about how we proceed to keep people safe -- the professionals in this field and their customers and their families. So if my comment offended anyone, I apologize for that.”

Whitmer also said haircuts will be permitted in parts of Michigan in the coming days, according to the show.

“This is one of those services that is up close and personal and that’s why we take it so seriously," Whitmer said. "It’s my fervent hope that in the coming days and weeks we are going to be as back to normal as we can be until we have a vaccine and that includes haircuts.”

Salon owners claim Michigan is the only state in which salons and barber shops remain closed.

The Safe Salons for Michigan coalition, which last week released an eight-step plan for reopening their businesses across the state, is again calling on Whitmer to allow them to operate.

“New data revealed Michigan is the only state where salons remain fully closed,” the coalition said in a release. “Data from Behindthechair.com (full graphic below) shows that Michigan salons remain closed, while salons in all other states have either fully or partially reopened, or have a reopening date scheduled.”

The coalition is asking Whitmer to reopen licensed salons and barber shops under last week’s eight-pillar safety plan.

“Today in Michigan, you can get your teeth cleaned, get your dog groomed, get a relaxing facial at the dermatologist and then join friends at a restaurant or bar for dinner and drinks, all while you still can’t get a haircut in a sanitary environment,” said Mike Sarafa, CEO of the Alline Group, while testifying before the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

READ: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses keeping hair, nail salons closed

The coalition also asked Whitmer to apologize for “disrespecting" beauty professionals at Monday’s press event.

“As if being closed wasn’t impossible enough, Gov. Whitmer made matters worse by disrespecting Michigan’s highly-trained licensed cosmetologists in saying that people can simply Google how to do a haircut,” said Kevin Lent, president of BAMF X2, LLC and member of Safe Salons for Michigan. “Michigan’s licensed cosmologists and barbers are well-trained, educated professionals who have spent years honing their abilities. On behalf of the entire salon industry, we ask Gov. Whitmer for an apology.”

A map of salons in the United States (behindthechair.com)

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.