DALLAS, TX—On Thursday, May 7, Governor Greg Abbott amended his lockdown executive order to free a Dallas salon owner who was jailed and fined for keeping her business open.
The salon owner, Shelly Luther, was sentenced to a week in jail on Tuesday, May 5, for disobeying directives which ordered her to close the outlet. The salon is called ‘Salon À la Mode’. She was also fined $7,000, as well as an additional $500 for each day that she kept the salon open up until Friday, May 8, which is when all salons are legally permitted to reopen.
Abbott modified his orders to eliminate confinement as an appropriate form of punishment for violating COVID-19-related guidelines:
“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,” said Abbott. “That is why I am modifying my executive orders to ensure confinement is not a punishment for violating an order. This order is retroactive to April 2nd, supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther. It may also ensure that other Texans like Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata who were arrested in Laredo, should not be subject to confinement. As some county judges advocate for releasing hardened criminals from jail to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is absurd to have these business owners take their place.”
Castro-Garcia and Mata were arrested on Wednesday, May 6, for offering their beauty services from home. After receiving numerous anonymous tips about the proceedings, Laredo police investigated the cases.
“Both of the violators independently solicited customers via social media. On both cases, an undercover officer working on the COVID-19 task force enforcement detail made contact with each solicitor to set up an appointment for a cosmetic, beauty service that is prohibited under the emergency ordinance,” the LPD said in a statement, according to LMTonline.
Castro-Garcia and Mata were both charged with violation of an emergency management plan. Although they each faced a punishment of up to 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine, they were both released on bond shortly after being arrested.
On May 7, in response to Luther’s sentencing, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick Tweeted:
“7 days in jail, no bail and a $7K fine is outrageous. No surprise Texans are responding. I’m covering the $7K fine she had to pay and I volunteer to be placed under House Arrest so she can go to work and feed her kids.”
BBC reported that Luther’s supporters chanted “Shelley’s free” as she left the jail wearing a face mask on Thursday. She reciprocated by saying “I just want to thank all of you who I just barely met, and now you’re all my friends. You mean so much to me. This would have been nothing without you. Thank you so, so much.”