Gov. Whitmer Reacts to Owosso Barber Opening for Business [OPINION]
Karl Manke reopened his barbershop for business on Monday (5/4) and has since gained support from hundreds of people who understand the frustration and hardship the Owosso business owner faces.
At a news conference on Thursday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer expressed her understanding for Manke's situation, but stood firm on her Executive Order that says salons and other non-essential businesses are to remain closed.
"I know that this has been a hard time for people trying to make ends meet when everything's essentially shut down and especially for small business owners who've built up something over the course of decades and they're worried," Whitmer said at a news conference. "The protections and the work that we've done is to protect the barber as well as all of his clients, and that's why it's really important that we continue to be smart, to do this in incremental stages, to listen to the data, to ramp up our testing, and continue moving forward."
Whitmer also said that there are 196 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Shiawassee County, where Manke's shop has been since 1961. There have been 13 deaths in that county.
Manke has been working 14 hour days since reopening his shop on Monday. He's received two citations for operating during Michigan's state of emergency and is now scheduled to appear in court on June 6. Regardless, the barber has vowed to to keep his shop open.
"Oh heavens yes. I'll be open until Jesus comes," Manke told WILX.
I'm going to share my OPINION. This is not black and white. Staying home and isolating from as many people as possible is important. It's our responsibility to our families and to others. But Karl Manke has a responsibility to himself and his family as well. This man has been denied unemployment twice and is now doing what he has to do in order to survive.
How is it fair that auto manufacturers have been given the green light to put people back to work on May 18, yet small business owners are forced to keep their businesses shuttered through the 28th? That seems like a double standard driven solely by the impact the auto industry has on the state's economy.