Exclusive: Health District: “Pending Litigation” in Connecticut Barbershop Case

DID THE DISTRICT “ALLOW” BARBER TO OPEN, THEN RESCIND?

by Sharon Rondeau

jackmac34, Pixabay, License

(May 21, 2020) — After reviewing an article in The New London Day which reported differing details about the Ledge Light Health District’s “cease and desist” order issued to Cat Thibodeau, owner of Modern Barber & Shave in Pawcatuck (Stonington), CT for reportedly contemplating reopening her shop on Wednesday, this writer contacted the district spokesman for the second time Thursday to obtain clarification on several of the article’s claims.

Barbershops and other personal-care services were ordered closed by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on March 17, along with many other businesses such as retail, libraries, bowling alleys, bars and restaurants, in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

The Post & Email reported on the story Thursday morning.  While spokesman Steve Mansfield agreed to speak with us after normal business hours this evening, once we mentioned the case about which we had questions, he said he “cannot comment further” because of “pending litigation.”

Our first question, which we were able to express before he declined to say more, was whether or not the article accurately reflects that a “federal marshal” served Thibodeau with the order, as Mansfield had told us it would be served by a “state marshal.”

We also contacted the article’s author, who stated in the article that he, too, communicated with Mansfield about the case.

Mansfield was unable to discuss any events leading up to the delivery of the order, he told us Thursday evening, then promptly said, “Goodbye.”

On Thursday afternoon, The Day reported:

A Pawcatuck barber was issued a cease and desist order by the Ledge Light Health District on Thursday, one day after the district and town officials allowed her to open her shop in defiance of Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order prohibiting barber shops and salons from opening until early next month.

Despite the order, she said she may still open her doors.

The Ledge Light Health District announced Wednesday afternoon that it had consulted with state health officials and its attorney and determined that the district was responsible for enforcing the governor’s order, after officials spent most of the day grappling with conflicting state mandates that allowed Cat Thibodeau, owner of Modern Shave and Barber, to return to work.

The Post & Email had wished to ask Mansfield whether or not it were accurate that the Town of Stonington had told Thibodeau that she would be able to open on Wednesday, May 20, as Lamont’s initial order had said. On May 18, Lamont reversed course on barbershops and hairdressers, stating that their reopening date would be in “early June.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, Lamont specified the date for that industry’s reopening as “June 1.”

The Day additionally reported that Thibodeau had not, in fact, opened her shop on Wednesday and Thursday, which contradicted reporting by Fox 61 on Wednesday evening.  “She’s expecting to serve about 10 clients a day for the time being,” the outlet reported, in an article titled, “Stonington barbershop opens despite order not to.”

However, Fox 61 reported that the health district acknowledged to Thibodeau, in her words:  “They said, you know, you’ve done everything and more that we’ve asked of you and we are going to wait and see if we get official word from the governor.”

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