OWOSSO — An Owosso barbershop owner who reopened his business despite state orders requiring hair salons and barbshops remain closed garnered both widespread support and condemnation for the move.
Karl Manke, 77, opened Karl Manke’s Barber and Beauty Shop, 421 W. Main St, Monday morning and again Tuesday. He reported cutting hair for up to 15 hours each day as people defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order closing hair styling salons and shops.
Manke said he planned to continue opening his shop.
Cars were lined up outside the shop and numerous people were seen sitting inside throughout each day.
In a Facebook post, Mike Edwards of Garden City said he “drove an hour and a half to Owosso to support Karl Manke and get a haircut.” Edwards, who says he is a retired Army captain on his own Facebook page, claimed people were maintaining distances and using common sense.
Health department officials could not be reached this morning for comment.
The Michigan Attorney General’s Office welcome message informed callers to report alleged violations of the state orders to contact their local police departments. A phone call seeking comment was not returned before deadline.
Owosso Department of Public Safety Director Kevin Lenkart said this morning his office had referred the case to the Shiawassee County Prosecutor’s Office for disposition, but declined to comment further.
Public reaction was mixed and vitriolic in extensive comments online.
”Karl Manke sounds like an extremely intelligent man,” Michele Betts said in a post on The Argus-Press Facebook page. “He is displaying appropriate hygiene protocol and people are showing up at his shop. Whether you agree or not, I am happy Karl was able to make his own choice to open and his clients were allowed to make their own choice to use his services.”
”Good Job Karl,” Rita Proctor-Gothup said. “If masks are utilized and sanitizing done between customers it should not be an issue. The virus isn’t going away so we need to get busy living.”
Others weren’t as pleased with the barber’s decision.
”We are all supposed to go by the same set of law(s) and nobody gets to pick and choose which ones they decide to follow or not,” Ric King said in a response to Tuesday’s story. “It’s absolutely absurd to think he is any bit more special than the other barbers and salons in the city, county and state…I would say it’s clear he should spend about a week in jail for this.”
“(It’s a) foolish way to get publicity and putting others in danger,” Darla Moiles Sprague commented. “Another business to add to the “never patronize” list.”