Karl Manke’s Licenses Restored; Barbershop Allowed to Stay Open

Karl Manke cutting hair inside his Owosso, Michigan barbershop in May after defying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders which extended the closure of barber and beauty shops due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Credit: DeadlineDetroit.com

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Owosso, MI (Great Lakes News) – A Shiawassee County barber who became a target of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel for opening his shop last month in the middle of extended executive orders keeping personal services businesses closed had both of his licenses restored this week.

77-year-old Karl Manke of Owosso received several victories in the form of this reinstatement and a recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling in his favor. According to Manke’s attorney David Kallman, the most recent order means Manke can keep cutting hair and keep his barber shop open.

“I am pleased with the orders issued today to reinstate my licenses so I can continue to move forward,” Manke said. “I still believe it is high time for all of Michigan to Stand Up, Open Up for business, and for all the people in our community to Show Up in support.”

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Manke chose to open his barber shop on May 4 during a continued economic shutdown imposed by Gov. Whitmer, who cited coronavirus concerns. He frequently told the media he could no longer afford to stay closed as his bills kept piling up. His decision to defy the governor’s order drew people from all over the state who came to his shop for a $15 haircut to show their support.

Manke’s attorney, David A. Kallman, stated “I am glad the state now acknowledges that Mr. Manke is not a threat to the public’s health, safety and welfare and that it is not necessary to continue the suspension of his licenses. Karl is now free to cut hair and pursue his livelihood without any unjust interference.”

There’s still one more hurdle to go. Manke is still facing misdemeanor criminal charges next week filed by the Shiawassee County Prosecutor. He will also contest the still pending formal complaint filed against him by the state in an administrative hearing.

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Michigan barber shops and salons, along with gyms and movie theaters, reopened last Wednesday in the U.P. and parts of the northern lower peninsula. Those businesses in the rest of the state, along with those working in the nail tech and massage industries, reopened Monday.