PAWCATUCK, Conn. (WTNH) — One barber in Pawcatuck defied the governor’s orders Wednesday to stay closed amid phase one of the state reopening. Thursday, she got a visit from the police.
Cat Thibodeau, the owner of Modern Barber and Shave, has been preparing for the state’s May 20 reopening for the past eight weeks. She has been shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis, and now that she has prepared with all health precautions in mind she is ready to get back to work.
The problem: Governor Ned Lamont released an executive order Monday saying that the reopening of salons and barbershops will be delayed another couple of weeks amid the crisis.
“So I have this whole station set up with the touch-less thermometer, hand sanitizer, masks,” said Thibodeau Wednesday, who showed News 8 the safety preparations she has taken to prepare for reopening at Modern Barber & Shave in Pawcatuck.
She planned to work alone with no other barbers.
But two days before hair salons were set to reopen Wednesday, the governor pushed back that date to June 1.
That didn’t stop Thibodeau from reopening anyway.
“Some of his friends in Fairfield County don’t want to open their barber shops, well that doesn’t fly with me,” said Thibodeau.
Soon wisps of hair started flying at Modern Barber & Shave.
“All of us are ready,” said Thibodeau. “If they’re not ready they don’t have to open.”
Through executive order, police can enforce the governor’s order but the only official visits Wednesday morning came from the town’s first selectwoman Danielle Chesebrough, the Ledge Light Health District, and State Senator Heather Somers.
“Our local health districts have to be at the table for this decision making. That has not been the case they’ve been informed after the fact,” Sen. Somers told the group.
The health district was also at the shop to do a courtesy inspection.
We asked Katie Baldwin, who is the Supervisor of Regulated Facilities and Housing, how it looked. “Very good,” she answered.
“These local businesses, if they don’t start opening slightly like that they’re going to go bankrupt,” said John Alfiero, who was happy to be Thibodeau’s first customer of the day.
Alfiero is a regular customer but by the looks at the people outside there are going to be plenty of new ones.
“I’ll probably be attending here to get my haircut from here on out,” said Nate Whipple of Pawcatuck.
Several people were waiting on the porch even before the shop opened.
“I’m here today to applaud Cat Thibodeau for being a courageous individual and beginning to open the state of Connecticut,” said Jim Spellman of Groton.
Thibodeau will continue cutting hair by appointment only and as long as customers keep coming she’ll follow all the other rules of reopening.
“I’m so glad she opened and I’m here for her,” said Alfiero.
But Thursday, Thibodeau remained closed after receiving a cease and desist order from the police department Thursday morning.
Her attorney submitted a complaint in court against Governor Lamont and the state Commissioner of the Department of Health, among others.
Read the full complaint below: