Protesters cut hair on Capitol steps in defiance of Governor Lamont’s orders

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hair salons and barbershops were supposed to open Wednesday as businesses part of Governor Lamont’s phase one of reopening the state. But the governor changed that Monday. Wednesday, hundreds of protesters angry about that last-minute decision rallied at the state capitol.

Emotions on all sides are running hot. Hundreds of protesters Wednesday waved flags and held signs chanting, “open now! open now! open now!” And, in defiance of the governor’s orders, a barber gave a protester a hair cut on the State Capitol steps.

RELATED: Some relieved, others livid: Gov. Lamont delays reopening hair salons, barbershops to June 1

Most of these protesters own barbershops or hair salons. They were supposed to open Wednesday as part of the governor’s phase one in reopening, but 48 hours ago, the governor canceled and pushed back salon and barbershop openings to June 1.

Lebert Fitzgerald Lester II owner of “It’s a G Thing Barbershop” in Hartford told News 8 at the capitol Wednesday, “it’s been about 10 weeks since we worked.”

He laid off 12 workers, lost $40,000 in revenues, and had clients lined up and planned on styling Wednesday.

“If you don’t want to go back to work, don’t go back,” he emphasized, “but don’t deny the rest of us the ability to go back to work.”

Related: Hairstylists, salon owners say May 20 too soon to reopen salons, State changes restrictions to ease reopening

Also in the crowd, dental hygienists. Paula Mele, a dental hygienist from New Britain, says she supports dentists working but has health concerns: “This is a respiratory virus, it affects your lungs.”

She’s asking the state Department of Environmental Protection to do aerosol testing and certify office safety.

Mele said, “Put the certification in place. Then we are on our way to consumer confidence and ends the discussion with aerosol safety.

The governor tells News 8, he “respects their right to protest, and will continue to act with public health and safety in mind.”

A tweet from the House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) to the protestors took a different tone, saying, “I’ll see you in 21 days after you get sick.”

He has since taken it down and tweeted, “it wasn’t appropriate. I apologize. Please stay home and stay safe.”

Related: CT hairstylists address concerns as the state heads toward reopening date

Emotions are high. But Lester II agrees. “If the law says I can’t work until a set date, then that is what I have to do.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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