This small town barber says he’ll still keep cutting hair and racking up fines for defying statewide protections during the pandemic.
OWOSSO, MI — Owosso is a quiet town in the middle of the state. On vacation out of state, Michiganders may point to the area just “west” the webbing between the thumb and index fingers of their hand maps to indicate its geographical location.
The people are normal – however one may measure that by today’s standards – and hard-working. And now one 77-year-old barber finds himself in “despair” over Michigan’s business shutdown.
Karl Manke received a $1,000 ticket on Wednesday for reopening his shop and cutting hair this week.
“I’m not trying to prove some point,” he told the Associated Press. “I needed to get back to work.”
Manke’s shop in Owosso was crowded with people who drove from as far away as Traverse City for a $15 haircut. The – albeit cheap – gas for the six hour long round trip likely cost more.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer closed salons and barber shops in late March, declaring them nonessential during the coronavirus outbreak and could put people at risk through close physical contact.
“I don’t need the governor to be my mother. … I can make these adult decisions myself,” Manke said.
He said he worked 15-hours Monday and again Tuesday, wearing a mask as he cut hair and using an ultraviolet sanitizer on his tools.
“I was in despair. I don’t have anybody paying me unless I’m doing work,” Manke said.
He said two Owosso police officers wearing masks delivered a ticket for violating the governor’s order, which is a misdemeanor that can carry a $1,000 fine per day. But Manke returned to cutting hair.
“I’m not going to close up unless they handcuff and carry me out of here,” he said. “I’m making a living. If I have to spend it all on court costs, I’ll do it. I’ll recover.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.