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State suspends barber's license for violating governor's COVID-19 orders

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The legal battle by a Michigan barber against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 orders escalated Wednesday.

State regulators suspendedKarl Manke’s professional license and pulled his barbershop license on Wednesday. 

State regulators allege Manke has made several violations of the Michigan Occupational Code and administrative rules, including gross negligence and willful violations of the health and safety rules.

“Mr. Manke’s actions in violating Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders as well as other health orders put the public at risk for contracting COVID-19,” says Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Manke's attorney, David Kallman, expects his client will challenge the move to suspend his license.   

Another legal battle between Manke and the state of Michigan is playing out in the Shiawassee County Circuit Court.

Earlier this week, the Attorney General’s office asked the court issue an order to close Manke’s barbershop.  But the judge declined.   Instead, the judge is asking both sides to submit briefs. That process will likely delay a decision for a few weeks. 

While the legal battle has swirled, Karl Manke has cut the hair of a steady stream of supporters in his Owosso barbershop since last week. 

The 77-year-old barber says he reopened his barbershop because could no longer afford to stay closed. Manke has become a hero to critics of the state’s “Stay at Home” response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics of Gov.  Whitmer’s executive orders have stood daily outside Manke’s barbershop to show their support for his stand.

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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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