Gov. Abbott Eliminates Confinement of Business Owners for Violating COVID-19 Orders
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Thursday that he has modified executive orders concerning COVID-19 so that business owners won't be jailed for violating them.
Abbott said the modifications will be retroactive to April 2, 2020, and apply to the controversial case of Shelley Luther - a Dallas-area salon owner recently sentenced to a week in jail after continuing to operate her business in defiance of COVID-19 shutdown and shelter-in-place orders.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Luther closed her salon in March, but resumed business in April. District Judge Eric Moyé fined her $7,000 and issued a temporary restraining order against her business.
Moyé reportedly offered to take jail time off the table if Luther apologized and admitted to acting selfishly - an offer Luther refused, saying she was only looking our for her family and employees. She was determined to be in contempt of court.
KTVT-TV reports that Luther was placed in protective custody and isolation during her time in jail. Her confinement caught the attention of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who called for her release Wednesday. Conservatives across Texas shared his sentiment, and their interest likely prompted Gov. Abbott's decision.
“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,” Governor Abbott said in a statement issued Thursday. "This order...if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther."
Indeed it has. Our partners at News 10 shared an AP report that the Texas Supreme Court has ordered Luther's release.
Meanwhile, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has paid Luther's $7,000 fine.
In his Thursday statement, Gov. Abbott named Laredo women Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata, who were arrested and jailed on April 15 for offering beauty and cosmetic services from home. They bonded out the same day, and under Abbott's latest modification will not face further jail time as a result of their violating a local emergency management plan that had been in place.