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June 9, 2020

Hartford nail salon sues CT over continued shutdown

The owner of a Hartford nail salon has filed a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut for it’s ongoing shutdown of personal service businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Luis Ramirez, owner of Roxy Nail Design on Park Street, filed the lawsuit Monday in Hartford Superior Court more than a week before nail salons, tattoo parlors, museums, zoos and other indoor businesses are on track to reopen as part of the second phase of Connecticut’s economic reopening plan.

An attorney representing Ramirez in a statement Tuesday argued the state has claimed that nail and hair salons pose the same health risks during the coronavirus pandemic, yet hair salons were allowed to reopen June 1, while the reopening date for nail salons was pushed back to June 17.

“The state must treat similar businesses equally and fairly,” said Steve Simpson, senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a nonprofit organization that defends clients it says are threatened by “government overreach.”

 “Gov. [Ned] Lamont and state agencies are empowered to protect public health, not make arbitrary distinctions among businesses,” Simpson added.

When asked to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday, a Lamont spokesman reiterated that nail salons are scheduled to reopen next week.

Roxy Nail Design, which Ramirez launched with his wife, Rosiris, five years ago, has been closed since the state ordered hair salons, barber shops and other non-essential businesses to close in mid-March to limit the spread of COVID-19.

With dwindling savings and eviction looming, the business says it has struggled to earn income and pay monthly rent of $1,400 after being denied a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan and investing $800 to implement new safety measures as it hoped to reopen on May 20. Luis Ramirez's second job as a landscaper was also put on hold amid the global health crisis.

Those factors, the PLF said, could force the business to close.

“Connecticut’s legislature passed a law laying out what actions officials may take in a pandemic,” the PLF said. “That law allows the governor and his officials to protect public health, not make arbitrary distinctions between businesses.”

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