‘Suck it Big Gretch’: Lansing barber reopens with maskless haircuts

Ingham County Health Department plans coordinated enforcement in response

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THURSDAY, Oct. 8 — A Lansing barber is once again flouting COVID-19 precautions, advertising “no mask required” haircuts and telling Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to “suck it.”

Brian Caskey, owner of Classic Barber Shop on Michigan Avenue in Lansing, appears to be back in business this week and actively spreading misinformation about statewide and countywide restrictions that still mandate face masks be worn while in indoor public spaces.

A post on Caskey’s Facebook page shows a logo for his barbershop, alongside white text that plainly reads “No mask required! Suck it Big Gretch!” He was also booking weekend haircuts.

“Bring it,” Caskey told a City Pulse reporter in response to questions about his mask policies.

After the Michigan Supreme Court invalidated the bulk of Whitmer’s executive orders that mandated face masks and other precautions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services this week submitted a replacement.

Under a newly implemented emergency order, face masks must be worn at all indoor and outdoor gatherings that are defined as “any occurrence where persons from multiple households are present in a shared space in a group of two or more” — like a barber shop — and requires businesses to enforce those requirements for gatherings on their premises.

Caskey appears to be open on an appointment-only basis at the moment, but just him and a single unrelated customer inside his store could arguably constitute a “group of two or more.”

Ingham County, as also allowed under state law, has also issued its own orders that mandate face coverings be worn in any indoor public space and bars businesses from providing service to maskless customers — with limited exceptions for children and those with medical issues.

A violation of either order is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $200 fine. An individual may also be arrested if a violation occurs in the presence of a police officer or if the police officer has a “reasonable cause” to believe the individual violated the local orders.

Both restrictions delegate investigation and enforcement of suspected violations to local health departments, which can work in conjunction with state regulatory agencies — like the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration — that can also revoke business licenses, craft sanctions and implement fines.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said that law enforcement agencies like the Lansing Police Department are designated, as her representatives, to crack down on violations. She also said she plans to work quickly with cops and state officials to ensure the order is enforced.

Caskey refused to answer additional questions. Nobody answered the phone at the barbershop.

“Fuck off,” he said.

If Caskey’s recent Facebook post about maskless haircuts is truthful, it wouldn’t be his barbershop’s first brush with civil disobedience. Prosecutors in May declined to pursue lockdown-related charges against Caskey after he opened up shop in defiance of state mandates but later closed after Lansing Police Department officers issued a verbal warning.

Caskey then told City Pulse that he was willing to risk criminal charges, civil fines and possibly the loss of his business license to reopen Classic Barber Shop and revive his revenue stream.

“I’m just to the point where if I don’t come to work, I’m going to lose my business,” Caskey explained in an interview with City Pulse in April before the Police Department had arrived. “I hold a roof over myself and two other barbers. If I don’t do this, I’m not going to have this to come back to. Neither will they, and nobody will be able to take care of their families.”

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