77 year old barber Karl Manke told NBC News on Thursday that despite reports his license has been suspended, he has not received any notice from officials about the suspension and has no plans to close his shop in Owosso.
After a judge declined to force 77 year old Karl Manke to shut down, State regulators on Wednesday suspended his license. Manke’s attorney, Dave Kallman, said of the action, “It’s pure retribution. It’s abuse of power.”
“If we wait until we’re absolutely perfectly safe, we’ll never have the freedoms that we had,” Karl Manke said, adding, “I had no income. There was nothing coming in.” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessell had said she doesn’t plan on arresting Owosso Barber Karl Manke, but she does have a message for him and his supporters. “He’s not a hero to me. He’s not a patriot.” She then goes on to call him “selfish in his behavior.”
AG @dananessel says she doesn't plan on arresting Owosso Barber Karl Manke, but she does have a message for him and his supporters.
"He's not a hero. He's not a patriot."
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— Mikenzie Frost (@MikenzieFrost) May 13, 2020
NBC News reports a Michigan barber who opened his shop in defiance of the governor’s coronavirus shutdown orders has had his licenses suspended by the state.
But barber Karl Manke told NBC News on Thursday that he has not received any notice from officials about the suspension and has no plans to close his shop in Owosso, about 37 miles northeast of Lansing.
“If we wait until we’re absolutely perfectly safe, we’ll never have the freedoms that we had,” he said.
The 77-year-old owner of Karl Manke’s Barber & Beauty has been in the business since 1961 and opened his own shop four years later. He said that in March when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer first issued a stay-at-home order and closed all nonessential businesses, he shut down his shop.
The order was initially supposed to end in mid-April but has been extended. NBC affiliate WDIV in Detroit reported that the state’s stay-at-home order is now until May 28.
Manke, who writes novels on the side, said that due to bills piling up and other expenses, he couldn’t remain closed.
“I had no income. There was nothing coming in,” he explained, adding that places where he did book signings were also closed.
On May 4, he opened up his barbershop — a decision that has led to some criticism. One commenter on the shop’s Facebook page slammed Manke for caring “more about your money than lives.” Others have left messages telling him to stay home.
State Attorney General Dana Nessel said Manke’s actions put the public at risk.
Nessel said local police cited Manke for violating the governor’s order and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services issued an order requiring Manke to close his barbershop, but he did not comply.
“Anytime you have a barber or other professional providing services to numerous citizens in close proximity to each other and those citizens are then returning to their various residences, there is a risk of contracting and spreading the virus,” the attorney general said in a press release on Wednesday. “It is paramount that we take action to protect the public and do our part to help save lives.”
Manke’s professional license and the license for this shop “were summarily suspended and an administrative licensing complaint was issued,” Nessel said.
Manke said he wears a mask and uses hand sanitizer regularly while working. He encourages his customers to wear masks and to practice social distance guidelines. The longtime barber said he’s not worried about getting sick.
“I’ve been through so many of these things. I remember as a kid my mother used to make us sit in the basement because of the poliovirus. I’ve been through the Hong Kong flu and the swine flu,” he said.
Since opening his shop again, business has skyrocketed and a lot of people support his decision, he said. One customer drove from California just for a haircut, Manke said.
“I’ve met people from every place across the country. Here in Michigan, they’re coming from all over the state,” he said.