Madison barber shop owner defies “Safer-At-Home” order to keep employees afloat

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MADISON, Miss. (WJTV) – It’s been six weeks since Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency ordering businesses he deemed non-essential to close to help flatten the Coronavirus curve. But in Madison, a barbershop owner was fed up and felt forced to open his doors to save his employees from going under completley.

Mike Land, who’s spent almost three decades building up his business Family Barber in Madison didn’t force any of his employees to come into work but wanted to give them the opportunity to get money back in their pockets before they lose everything.

“My husband passed away eight months ago,” one employee told us. “I’m by myself taking care of an elderly woman, I have no choice but to work.”

A staff of mostly single moms, didn’t hold back explaining their struggles since the coronavirus pandemic cutoff their only source of income.

“My stimulus check is going straight to my rent, my lights and by that time I don’t have any money,” a second employee said. “I’ve got three children and this is my only way of making money.”

Desperate to stay afloat, Land decided to step forward and open his doors.

“My attorney said you can do that, saying the Governor does not have the authority to close a business,” Land says. “You go ahead and one of my attorneys came in here yesterday for a hair cut.”

Under Executive Order 1477, or the “Safer-At-Home” Order” in effect until May 11th, Governor Tate Reeves used the Mississippi Emergency Management Act to order businesses like barbershops to close, deeming them unsafe to peoples health and against social distance guidelines.

Mike Land believes they can work around that.

“We wear masks, we’ve never done that before, we’re cleaner than we’ve ever been,” Land says. “We put up anti-bacterial cream at every station, every station is cleaned after you have your haircut. We’ve never had more than 10 people per-room.”

And with the option of unemployment benefits, Family Barber staff say they’ve had no luck getting through or for small business loans.

“They denied me because I’m self employed,” a hairdresser says.

“For this type of business where you have independent contractors, you cannot get a small business loan,” Land said. “According to my accountant who I’ve had for over 10 years.”

Madison Police were called to the Family Barber and issued mike land a citation for violating Gov. Reeves’ “Safer-At-Home” order. Land says his attorney does believe he could win the case in court, but it will cost more than his losses by closing until May 11th.

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