Lost: Case dismissed, but Roxy Nails allowed to open

Luis Ramirez and his wife, Rosiris, opened Roxy Nail Design in Hartford, CT, five years ago. Since then, they’ve outlasted the common struggles new businesses face and become successful, providing work for three nail technicians.

In early March, Luis closed his business, following Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders for statewide business shutdown stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The months that have followed haven’t been easy for Luis and Rosiris. They were denied a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan, and Luis’s second job as a landscaper was also put on hold, all the while still beholden to their monthly rent of $1,400.

With little in the way of income, a dwindling savings account, and eviction looming, Luis and Rosiris were relieved to learn they might be able to reopen on May 20. They scraped together $800 to comply with state-required safety precautions and prepared to immediately open their doors and safely serve customers.

The state then crushed their hopes and possibly their entire business by inexplicably pushing back the reopening date for nail salons to June 17—or later—despite allowing hair salons to open on June 1.

This double standard is unjust and unfair. The Governor’s own Reopening Plan recognizes that hair salons and nail salons pose the same public health risks and both can operate under safety guidelines. By allowing hair salons and other businesses to reopen but keeping nail salons closed, the governor and the agency he picked to create the reopening plan, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, assumed power they don’t have. Connecticut’s legislature passed a law laying out what actions officials may take in a pandemic. That law allows the governor and his officials to protect public health, not make arbitrary distinctions between businesses.

Represented by PLF free of charge, Luis and Roxy Nail Design, LLC, fought back against the governor and the Department of Economic and Community Development’s unconstitutional power grab that prevented him from responsibly opening his business.

What’s At Stake?

  • The government’s shutdown and reopening orders related to COVID-19 must treat similar businesses equally and fairly. It cannot choose winners and losers based on reasons unrelated to health and safety.
  • Even during a pandemic, each branch of government must follow the constitutional separation of powers and the rule of law; the main safeguard to individual liberty now and after the crisis has passed.

Case Timeline