Michigan Barber reopens business despite lockdown order: Gov. Whitmer has 'no concept at all, the damage that she's doing to our state'

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Michigan barber, who reopened his shop last week in defiance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdown order, said on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday  that the governor “obviously got a little bit mad” when she kept extending the state’s stay-at-home order.

Karl Manke, 77, said that when Whitmer signed an executive order last week to extend the state’s stay-at-home order through the end of May for nonessential workers, it “just absolutely brought me to my knees.”

He said he “just couldn't” stay closed since he is a small business owner.

Whitmer’s executive order came one day after state lawmakers filed a lawsuit to compel her to reopen the economy following her extension of the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration. The lawsuit capped off weeks of protests that featured armed demonstrators at the state Capitol.

Despite frustration over an economy in freefall, the Democratic governor cautioned that Michigan is “not out of the woods yet."

The order’s extension through May 28 means that Michiganders cannot leave their home except “to run critical errands, to engage in safe outdoor activities or go to specified jobs.”

Manke told local media outlets that police had cited him twice for reopening his barbershop in Owosso, where he has cut hair for 60 years. He said he is due in court on June 6.


He said that even though he was issued tickets that could see him face jail time and fines, he will continue working until police arrest him or “until Jesus walks in,” the Flint Journal reported.

Those who violate Whitmer’s order in Michigan can face a 90-day misdemeanor and/or a $500 fine.

“March 21st was the last day that I had worked,” Manke said on Sunday.

“The indication was it would be a couple of weeks,” he added. “And I'm not fine with that, but a lot of the other businesses were still staying open.”

He noted that some businesses were “deemed essential or nonessential by some call. I'm not sure what that was based on.”

“But then a couple of weeks went by, and then they extended it for another couple of weeks,” Manke continued. “And it was about April 30th [when] the legislative branch of our state had decided that the governor was out of order, that she had used up her 28 days and that she could no longer initiate that type of an order. So I planned to go back to work.”

Manke said money has been tight since the shutdown and he can no longer afford to stay closed. Even with the potential consequences, the 77-year-old said he plans on keeping his doors opens.

He has already given dozens of haircuts. Manke has been working as many as 15 hours a day to field the demand for grooming. He wears a mask as he cuts hair, uses an ultraviolet light to sanitize his tools and follows other sanitary measures.

The barber’s defiance has attracted support all across Michigan, with residents showing up for haircuts from Detroit and Muskegon, a nearly two-hour drive, The Argus-Presse reported. Supporters showed up outside the shop Wednesday, waving flags and honking horns.

“Obviously she [Whitmer] has no concept at all, the damage that she's doing to our state and to families,” Manke said on Sunday.

Whitmer drew national attention for enacting some of the strictest measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many protesters claimed that the governor overstepped her authority by temporarily banning most travel between homes, sales of items such as garden supplies and activities including some types of fishing.


As of Sunday, Michigan reported more than 46,800 coronavirus cases and 4,530 deaths, according to data compiled by Fox News.

Fox News’ Bradford Betz, Stephen Sorace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.