A news conference that was supposed to celebrate a development project in Berlin took a turn Wednesday when people upset with how the governor is handling the COVID-19 pandemic showed up and heckled him about reopening the state, rules he's instituted, mask requirements and limits on how many people can gather at one time.
"My 3-year-old doesn't need to be behind a mask," one person called out from the crowd.
“Can we just talk in a few minutes?,” Gov. Ned Lamont responded. “Let me just talk to these people right now. I’m happy to have a conversation.”
As the news conference continued, protesters called for the governor to reopen Connecticut.
“Well, if you think being incredibly rude is helping your cause, I think you’re wrong,” Lamont responded from the podium.
Earlier this week, the governor announced that there will be a $100 fine for individuals who do not follow the state's mask order, a $500 fine for organizing an event that exceeds the size limits for crowds and a $250 fine for those who attend events that exceed size limits.
“Who gets a $500 fine today?” someone called out from the crowd, referring to the number of people at the news conference.
“Let’s start counting people,” one called out.
"My 3-year-old doesn't need a medical exemption to go to school without a mask," one father called out.
During a separate media availability, the governor addressed what happened in Berlin and he said around half a dozen people attended with a bullhorn and called for him to reopen the state.
"I think you hurt your cause if you're angry and rude," Lamont said.
The people who were in Berlin to protest said they wanted the governor to open up the state the way North Dakota has, according to Lamont.
"I said, that's true, but they have a 18-percent infection rate. You really want to move to North Dakota?" Lamont said.
He added that he thinks it's important to keep the conversation going.
"I've tried to explain every day what I'm doing, why I am doing it, and I'm willing to course correct when necessary," Lamont said.
The governor was also asked about the fines put in place and he said the state allowed municipalities to levy a fine based on people wearing makes or having large parties.
"That's just one more arrow in their quiver," Lamont said. "Something that they can do, something they asked us to do,."
He said cities and towns wanted more flexibility and the state gave them local control.