June 5, 2020 / 3:03 PM / a month ago

Whitmer to allow haircuts in Michigan in latest step to open economy

FILE PHOTO: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media about the flooding along the Tittabawassee River, after several dams breached, in downtown Midland, Michigan, U.S., May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

DETROIT (Reuters) - Hair salons and barbers in Michigan will be allowed to resume business on June 15, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said on Friday, the latest step to reopen the state’s economy shut for months by measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Whitmer has acknowledged that her restrictions were among the strictest in the country. It is currently one of the few states where getting a haircut is still prohibited.

The opening applies statewide to hair, massage, and nail services subject to safety protocols, Whitmer said in a statement. The northern part of the state, which has been less impacted by the virus, would resume operations at salons, movie theaters, and gyms on June 10.

“If the current trajectory continues, I anticipate we’ll be able to announce more sectors reopening in the coming weeks,” Whitmer said.

The Democratic governor had been criticized by business leaders and President Donald Trump, and has faced high-profile protests over her shutdown orders, including by the state’s salon and barber shop operators.

Whitmer has argued that tough measures were justified as Michigan has been hard hit by COVID-19, with 5,595 deaths and more than 58,000 confirmed cases as of Friday.

Trump won Michigan, a crucial swing state, in the 2016 presidential election, becoming the first Republican to do so since 1988.

Whitmer said earlier in the week that retailers would be allowed to reopen on June 5 and restaurants and bars on June 8, both subject to social distancing capacity limits.

The U.S. economy unexpectedly added jobs in May after suffering record losses in the prior month, according to a Labor Department report, offering the clearest signal yet that the downturn triggered by the pandemic was easing, though the road to recovery could be long.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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