These are the latest business owners pushing to toss social distancing by the wayside so that they may operate again.
LANSING, MI — In the deepest corners of Michigan’s 83 counties is a growing restlessness from barbers and salon owners ready to nix social distancing measures so they can get back to work. This week, they’ll bring their frustrations to the front lawn of the Capitol in Michigan’s next protest.
But who are the folks driving this message?
The ‘Gander previously reported about the Owosso barber who refused to close his shop, despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders. Eventually, after warnings and tickets, his business license was revoked.
Attorney General Dana Nessel said she had no intention of arresting the barber, but commenting on his growing attention saying he’s “not a hero.”
“We’re not looking to throw people in jail,” she said of the 77-year-old who reopened his storefront against orders on May 4. “That is, to me, a very, very, very last resort. We want him to discontinue his conduct, which we think is aiding and abetting in the spread of the virus.”
Despite Nessel’s admonishment, the elderly barber continues to garner national attention and support. Shelly Luther, a salon owner who was sent to jail for opening her business during the coronavirus outbreak, traveled all the way from Texas – during the pandemic – just to show her support in Owosso.
“Why does your governor think that it’s OK to open up for marijuana, liquor sales?” Luther, whose boyfriend grew up an hour away in Frankenmuth, said at a press conference. “Can’t you get an abortion? But you cannot get your hair cut. What is wrong?”
This is not the only case of professionals in the beauty industry decrying the executive orders that are keeping their businesses closed to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. A Cadillac, Michigan, hairdresser broke Gov. Whitmer’s lockdown order last week.
Tina Godfrey owns Abbie’s First Cut and decided to open her doors for the first time in almost two months, risking her business license. She says she followed the lockdown order as long as she could and picked up part-time work at a local supermarket to pay bills, according to UpNorthLive.
“If I stay closed my little business is going to be gone, and everything I’ve worked for over the last 30 years is gone,” Godfrey said on Thursday.
Jason Elmore oversees Cadillac as the Wexford County prosecutor. He warned business owners that violating the shutdown order risked them becoming targets of AG Nessel. He advised any business owner following Godfrey’s lead to hire a lawyer before acting.
“People are also risking losing their licenses, health department arrests, prosecution from Michigan State Police and The Attorney General,” Elmore said. “All of those have nothing to do with local law enforcement. I encourage any business, group, or person to talk to their own attorney and also talk with their insurance agents.”
Since making headlines for reopening, Godfrey addressed the public on her business’s Facebook page.
Despite the potential viral spread of COVID-19 and risk of their operational business licenses, more Michigan barber shop and salon owners continue to defy orders. Sarah Huff received a cease and desist order from local police after reopening her Holland, Michigan, salon.
“This is so much more than just opening my business, in my opinion, it’s just something that needs to happen,” she told Fox News.
Huff says her salon will be sanitized regularly and allow no more than “two to three customers inside” at a time.
Salon owners aren’t the only Americans getting restless. Recently, Floridians gathered on the steps of a county courthouse squatting and planking – you know, exercising – to protest their inability to exercise at Florida’s gyms.
Back in Michigan, ‘Operation Haircut’ is headed for Michigan’s State Capitol on Wednesday. Local barbers and hairdressers in this group plan to defy social distancing protections and cut others’ hair onsite. They are being organized by the same group that first held Operation Gridlock last month.
The protest fits with the personal wishes of at least one Michigan lawmaker who seems to be losing his patience for Gov. Whitmer’s safety measures.
“I’m ready to go get a haircut,” Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) told the Atlantic. But movie theaters he’d pass on. “I got Netflix and Disney+ and Amazon Prime. I’m good.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.