Shirkey says he got professional haircuts, defying Michigan’s stay-home order

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) at "Operation Haircut," another right-wing protest at the Capitol, May 20, 2020 | Anna Liz Nichols

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said he got “a couple” of professional haircuts while Michigan stay-home orders were still in place, something he revealed in a June 15 interview with WTVB, a radio station in Coldwater.

Hair salons and other businesses designated as non-essential shuttered in late March under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home order which aimed to combat the transmission of COVID-19. She lifted her final extension of that order on June 1. Hair and nail salons and spas are some of the last industries to reopen in Michigan. They were allowed to do so on June 15. 

“Let me give you a little secret, and turn the – make sure that people aren’t listening,” Shirkey told Ken Delaney, who hosts “Delaney in the Morning.” “I got a couple of haircuts while we were in the shutdown because I just wasn’t going to stand by and look like a shaggy dog.”

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“Like at home, or where did you go?” Delaney asked Shirkey. 

“I’m not gonna reveal my source,” Shirkey replied. “But it wasn’t at home and it was done professionally, and it was done appropriately and it needed to be done, and I did it.” 

A Shirkey spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. Neither did a spokesperson for the governor.

Michigan was one of the most impacted states by coronavirus at the outset. As of Monday, the state had more than 61,000 cases and 5,800 deaths.

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Whitmer’s decision to keep hair and nail salons and spas closed beyond the June 1 end of her stay-home order sparked some blowback, especially from business owners itching to return to work. 

The controversy over haircuts isn’t new, either. Owosso barber Karl Manke gained notoriety for defying the governor’s stay-home order and opening his small barbershop back up in May. 

There also was an “Operation Haircut” event at the Capitol in May following a series of right-wing protests. Shirkey was among the Republican lawmakers who attended the event, which featured hair stylists breaking the stay-home order, with several earning fines.

C.J. Moore
C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.