MI Court of Appeals orders defiant Owosso barber to close shop

Owner of Mid- Michigan barber shop says he's received overwhelming support from the community...
Owner of Mid- Michigan barber shop says he's received overwhelming support from the community after defying the Governor's orders and opening his doors for business. (Source: WILX)(WILX)
Published: May. 27, 2020 at 1:15 PM EDT
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An Owosso barber who has refused to comply with Michigan's coronavirus restrictions and close his shop balks at a new court order telling him to shut down.

"I'm still open, still working until they cut my hands off," Karl Manke told News 10 over the phone Thursday while shop remained open.

The Michigan Court of Appeals issued an order Thursday morning that said Manke's shop posed a public health hazard and must close. The order also mentions that if it remains open Manke could be held in contempt.

It was unclear Thursday how state officials plan to handle Manke's refusal to close. He is expected to eventually be issued a formal document ordering him to close the business.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Thursday in a statement she takes no pleasure in prohibiting any resident from earning a living, but is bound by an obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of everyone in the state.

“This pandemic has demanded we take appropriate measures to mitigate actions that pose a threat to the public," Nessel said. "Protecting lives must now, and always, be the state's first priority. We are pleased the Court of Appeals and Administrative Law Judge appreciate this concern.”

The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, testified Wednesday that Manke's shop is "an imminent threat to public health." She cited photos of the shop that show Manke wearing a mask below his chin and customers sitting close together without face coverings.

Manke, 77, has tried to stop two license suspensions.

Barbershops and salons have been closed for weeks by Whitmer. She believes it's too risky to reopen them.

Manke, however, reopened on May 4, and has stayed open for most of the past month.

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