Elderly Michigan Barber Refuses To Close Shop Despite Harsh Rebuke From Whitmer Administration

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An elderly barber in Michigan has reopened his shop in defiance of state lockdown orders and says he will not shutter his shop again “until Jesus walks in or until they arrest me.”

According to Michigan Live, 77-year-old Karl Manke says he has no other choice but to reopen his shop in order to survive.

Manke has been issued at least two citations by state troopers, has had his shop ordered to be closed by the state health department, and faces up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine if he refuses to comply.

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s shutdown order calls for shops like Manke’s to remain closed until such time as state authorities deem reopening to be “safe”.

Facing financial disaster, however, Manke took it on himself to reopen “Manke’s Beauty & Barber Shop” in Owosso last Monday.

“Heavens yes, I’m staying open unless they take me out in handcuffs or Taser me,” Manke told Michigan Live on Wednesday.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a Health Protection Order against Manke on Friday, and he is expected in court on June 6.

The agency said in a statement that 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.”

“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,” Michigan Live reported. “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.”

Nonetheless, Manke plans to stay open, telling Michigan Live “he has no choice and needs the income.”

“The demand for haircuts is high and he said he cannot wait for the shutdown to be lifted,” the outlet reported, adding that Manke cannot afford to remain closed any longer.

Since his illicit reopening, Manke’s shop has had lines out the door, with Manke working from 10 AM to midnight to satisfy the massive demand for his services.

“I can … run my business how I feel I should run it,” the grandfather told the news outlet. “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.”

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