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LARA suspends license of Owosso barber still cutting hair

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Updated May 13, 2020 at 2:45 p.m.:

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has suspended the license of barber Karl Manke, according to the Lansing State Journal

Manke has not yet been formally served with the notice, according to state Attorney General Dana Nessel, but he and his attorney, David Kallman, have been notified.

Nessel told LSJ that LARA's actions were "absolutely the right move."

Original post, May 11, 2020 at 8:04 p.m.:

A judge has denied the state’s request to shut down an Owosso barber who has been cutting hair in defiance of the governor’s stay home order.

Michigan’s Attorney General’s office asked the Shiawassee County Circuit Court for a temporary restraining order seeking to have Karl Manke cease all business operations at his Owosso barbershop. 

Manke reopened his barbershop last week, saying he could no longer afford to keep his business closed.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a public health order that deemed Manke’s business an imminent danger to public health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and directed him to immediately cease operations at his barbershop. 

A Michigan attorney general’s office spokesman says Manke’s barbershop creates “clear public health dangers” as long as it operates.   

But Monday, the court denied the state’s request. Instead, the judge will schedule a hearing.

Attorney David Kallman represents Manke. He said the governor’s order is unfair.

Credit Michigan Governor's office
Michigan Governor's office
"“I expect people to follow the law,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“Certain businesses are favored. They can open. Other businesses are unfavored. They stay shut. And their businesses get destroyed. That’s what we’re fighting in this case,” said Kallman.

Karl Manke’s fight to cut hair during the pandemic has become a focus of the critics of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dozens have regularly gathered daily outside Manke’s Owosso barbershop.

A teary-eyed Manke thanked his flag-waving supporters Monday.

“I came into this last Monday alone, thinking I’m going to swing in the wind. And I cannot believe the support that I’ve got,” said Manke.

At her news conference Monday, Whitmer acknowledged the “frustration” that many small business owners are feeling.

But she stressed the need to focus on saving lives during the pandemic. 

“I expect people to follow the law,” said Whitmer. 

As of Monday, 47,552 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the two months since the first cases in Michigan were reported. Nearly half that number have officially recovered.  

4,582 Michiganders have died from the disease. 

Michigan Radio listeners, readers, and reporters are rising to the challenge every day. If you can, please support essential journalism during this crisis.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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