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Small-town barber wins early victory in fight to stay open

Karl Manke photo
Associated Press

A judge on Monday declined to stop a defiant Michigan man who reopened his barber shop despite a state order that has closed businesses for weeks because of the coronavirus. The judge rejected a request for a restraining order and said Karl Manke deserves a hearing if the state wants to shut down his business in Owosso, a small town 40 miles northeast of the state Capitol.

The 77-year-old has become a symbol of resistance to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s sweeping stay-home order and other restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.

Manke reopened his barber shop on May 4, saying he was despondent over not working and that he could make his own decisions.

Manke was given a cease-and-desist order from state regulators last week. Separately, he’s been given at least two misdemeanor tickets by police. Meanwhile, people from all over Michigan have filled his shop waiting for a haircut.

Unrelated, an Upper Pennisula based business owner re-opened his doors as well in defiance of the stay at home order, and is urging others to do the same. Eric Kiilunen of Ahmeet last week created the “All Business is Essential campaign last week,” and is urging business owners across the state of Michigan to re-open their doors on May 21st regardless of Whitmer’s executive order.

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