A 77-year-old Michigan barber who says he has no other choice but to reopen his shop in order to survive has been issued at least two citations, could face 90 days behind bars, and has had his shop ordered closed by state authorities.
However, the barber says it would take “Jesus” showing up or police dragging him out in handcuffs to turn on the “closed” sign.
Under Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s shutdown order, Karl Manke is supposed to keep his shop closed until the guidelines state that it’s “safe” for a reopening. But with economic hardship mounting, the barber opened “Manke’s Beauty & Barber Shop” on Monday, and has remained opened since.
“Heavens yes, I’m staying open unless they take me out in handcuffs or Taser me,” Manke said, according to a Michigan Live report issued Wednesday.
The barber has been seeing lines out the door, working 10 a.m. to midnight on Monday.
Manke said “he can’t afford to stay closed,” Michigan Live reported. “The demand for haircuts is high and he said he cannot wait for the shutdown to be lifted.”
“I can … run my business how I feel I should run it,” the 77-year-old explained. “To tell you the truth, I am scared but I didn’t really have any choice. I need to work through that fear and open up.”
Folks who do not comply with Whitmer’s mandate could face 90 days behind bars and $500 fines. Manke was issued two citations from Michigan State Police troopers on Wednesday.
According to a Michigan Live report posted Saturday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued Health Protection Order on Friday, and the barber is expected in court on June 6.
MDHHS Director Robert Gordon “acted under the authority granted to him by state law to issue an order that is necessary to correct conditions that pose an imminent threat to the health or lives of people in Michigan,” the agency said in a statement.
Still, Manke plans to stay open, reportedly telling Michigan Live “he has no choice and needs the income.”
“Until Jesus walks in or until they arrest me,” Manke said, he’ll continue to take customers, the Saturday report noted.
“If Manke does not comply with the governor’s order and shut down, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office on Monday will ask a Shiawassee County Circuit Court judge to issue a temporary restraining order,” the report said. “If a judge does issue such an order and Manke refused to comply with it, he could be held in contempt of court.”
“It is without question that we are in the middle of a public health crisis,” Ryan Jarvi, press secretary for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, said in a statement issued Friday. “Both the governor, through her executive orders, and the DHHS Director, through his orders, are focused on protecting the public health of Michigan residents. 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.”
The AG’s press secretary said the barber has been “given every opportunity to voluntarily comply with the governor’s Executive Order and the order of the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Director.”
According to Jarvi, the 77-year-old’s business has been “deemed an imminent danger to the public health and ordered to be shut down by the DHHS Director.”
“Mr. Manke’s actions are not a display of harmless civil disobedience,” Jarvi claimed. “His actions are counterproductive to the collective effort businesses and communities everywhere have made to slow the spread of COVID-19, and by opening the doors to his business, he’s putting the lives of many more Michiganders at risk.”
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