Barber who defied Michigan coronavirus lockdown can continue, says court

An Owosso city barber can continue operating despite Michigan’s Covid-19 stay-at-home order, a court has ruled.

Karl Manke had his license suspended after opening his barber shop on 4 May, and continued to cut hair whilst state authorities issued a cease and desist order against the 77-year-old.

He told Fox News that he would not “stand down” ahead of a Shiawassee County court decision on whether to accept the Michigan attorney general’s request for an emergency temporary restraining order against him.

According to the Lansing State Journal, Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart refused the attorney general’s request on Thursday, allowing Mr Manke to continue his business.

“I’m 77 years old. I mean, what are they going to give me? Life?” he told Fox. “I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. I [couldn’t] care less.”

Conservatives across America have backed the barber, who headed demonstrations dubbed ‘Operation Haircut’ on Wednesday.

Michigan state police said seven barbers and hairdressers who were protesting with hair cuts were arrested.

Alongside Mr Manke, some 300 people are thought to have protested on state capitol grounds against Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer’s measures – introduced to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus that has killed over 95,000 in the US alone.

On Thursday, Mr Stewart said that the court’s decision had been “close”, but that there was not enough evidence to show how Mr Manke’s barber shop was dangerous.

“(The attorney general) has not presented any studies underlying the doctor’s conclusion,” wrote the judge. “(The attorney general) has not shown any nexus between the cutting of hair and an increased risk of transmission”.

The attorney general’s office is expected to appeal against the decision.