SPOKESMAN: ORDER A “LEGAL DOCUMENT”
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 21, 2020) — As was reported Wednesday evening on Fox 61 and in The Westerly (RI) Sun, a Pawcatuck, CT barbershop which reopened on Wednesday in defiance of Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s revised order may face closure Thursday afternoon by a local health department.
Pawcatuck, a village within the town of Stonington with fewer than 6,000 people, is located in New London County several miles from the Rhode Island state line near Westerly.
Cat Thibodeau, owner of Modern Barber & Shave, had advertised its reopening on May 20 with COVID-19 safety measures posted. “Modern Barber and Shave takes your safety seriously. Until further notice, we will be operating on an Appointment Only basis with only one barber on staff at a time. This will ensure proper sanitation measures between each client and the next appointment time. When booking, please take into account that we need to be thorough and there will be about a ten minute grace period for cleaning and disinfection. When you arrive for your appointment, you may call to let us know you’ve arrived and wait on our comfortable porch or in your car. Your barber will call you back or come to find you when it’s time for you to come inside,” the notice begins.
As The Post & Email reported Monday evening, barbershops and hairdressers had been included in Lamont’s original order for “Phase 1” of the state’s reopening on Wednesday. With less than 48 hours’ notice, Lamont declared that that industry would have to wait until “early June” to reopen after he reportedly received “a lot of feedback from many owners and employees” in the sector and collaborated with Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as part of his “regional” approach to reopening.
According to an article in The Hartford Courant on Tuesday, those “leaders” reported “a lack of funding for personal protective equipment, limiting how long these businesses can stay open and preventing some from going into work.”
“The Connecticut Beauty Association, which represents more than 3,600 hairdressers and barbers, had planned a protest Monday afternoon at the state Capitol asking for the reopening date to be pushed back,” additionally wrote The Courant‘s Nicholas Rondinone.
With no opposing viewpoint to the governor’s last-minute change included in the article, The Post & Email contacted the author but received no response. An email sent to Lamont’s office on Tuesday regarding the “constitutional” basis of the new order authorizing local health and police departments to act against those who might defy it similarly received no response.
Conversely, Fox 61 reported a number of protests at the state capitol in Hartford on Wednesday:
On the first day of Connecticut’s partial re-opening, protesters filled the lawn of the Capitol over the issue of going back to work.
“Why not allow us to define how we return to work,” said Lebert Fitzgerald Lester II, a Hartford barber shop owner.
Hair salon owners, stylists, and barber shop owners called on the Governor to let them do their jobs again, after getting their start date pushed back to June 1st.
“We get it one date then we get pushed back, and now we have another date and we’re in fear that it’s gonna get pushed back again and we have to let them know that we’re not gonna stand for this,” said Joseph Pelky, a Middletown barber shop owner.
The group says they already prepared to re-open, ordering PPE, cleaning and sanitizing…
According to The Sun, the Ledge Light Health District in New London issued an order to Modern Barber to close as of Thursday afternoon. The health district reported that barbershops and hair salons were included in Lamont’s May 9 executive order as well as Lamont’s May 18 change in stance.
On Tuesday, Lamont said the new date for hairdressers and barbers’ reopening will be June 1, although The Sun reported that it would be “a few more weeks” from May 20.
Along with a list of businesses which could be reopened Wednesday under the new guidance, Lamont’s office provided a “self-certification” portal with which all businesses were to register prior to reopening.
At 9:00 a.m. Thursday, The Post & Email reached Steve Mansfield, spokesman for the Ledge Light Health District, who said the order to Modern Barber was prepared and “in the process of being delivered to the barber shop this morning.”
Mansfield did not know the length of the document. “It’s a public health order as established under the Connecticut Public Health Code,” he said as a descriptor.
“Is there any question in your mind as to the constitutionality of issuing such an order?” we asked, to which Mansfield responded, “No, I have no comment on that. I’m not an attorney and I’m not qualified to make that decision.”
“After she receives the order, what will occur if she decides to stay open?” we asked of Thibodeau. “A public health order is a legal document; it’s being delivered by a state marshal,” Mansfield replied. “If she’s compliant, then nothing happens; if she’s non-compliant, it gets referred to the local police department.”
In Connecticut, summonses are served by marshals in the absence of county sheriffs, which were rendered obsolete in a 2000 constitutional amendment.
“What action would they take?” we asked, referring to the local police department, to which Mansfield said, “You’d have to ask them that.”
Efforts to reach Thibodeau by email and telephone were unsuccessful as of press time.
As of Wednesday, Stonington has reported 30 COVID-19 cases.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.