UPDATE: Texas Governor Supports Release Of Arrested Salon Owner, Restrictions End Friday

UPDATE: (3:15 p.m.) Gov. Abbott joins Atty. Gen. Paxton in criticizing Luther’s arrest. Statement included below.

A defiant Dallas beauty salon owner was ordered to spend seven days in jail by a Dallas judge — unless she begs for release.

This just days before restrictions on salons, barber shops, nail salons, and other cosmetological businesses is set to expire.

Salon a la Mode owner Shelley Luther reopened Thursday, April 30, to cheer from supporters and clients as she tore up a cease and desist letter from the judge. Her business was deemed a non-essential service and previously ordered to close. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that salons will be allowed to reopen this coming Friday

Dallas Civil District Judge Eric Moyé stacked on fines for each day Luther keeps her salon open up to $140,000. Luther was booked into Dallas County jail Tuesday afternoon. Protesters gathered this morning at the Dallas County Courthouse.

“I couldn’t feed my family, and my stylists couldn’t feed their families,” Luther said in her testimony, according to the Associated Press, noting that she did not receive any small business assistance payments.

Moyé was not without some grace; that if Luther calls from the jail and offers to publicly apologize she may be released.

“If you would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that your actions were selfish, putting your own interests ahead of those in the community in which you live; that they disrespected the executive orders of the state, the orders of the county, and this city; that you now see the error of your ways and understand that the society cannot function when one’s own belief in the concept of liberty permits you to flaunt your disdain for the rulings of duly elected officials; that you owe an apology to the elected officials who you disrespected by flagrantly ignoring and, in one case, defiling their orders which you now know obviously regard to you; that you know the proper way in an ordered society to engage concerns you may have had is to hire a lawyer and advocate for change, an exception, or amendment to laws that you find offensive,” Moyé said during the sentencing, via Texas Scorecard.

The Texas Supreme Court hinted this week coronavirus restrictions on business “may not survive judicial scrutiny” when all is said and done. Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton said today the sentence was “overbroad” and should be reconsidered, followed by a sharp critique from Gov. Abbott.

“I join the Attorney General in disagreeing with the excessive action by the Dallas Judge, putting Shelley Luther in jail for seven days,” Abbott said. “As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option. Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety; however, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother.”

Meanwhile, salons like Luther’s will be able to open on Friday, May 8, with restrictions in place. Below is Gov. Abbott’s press release from Tuesday’s update on the lessening of state COVID-19 restrictions.

Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference where announced that he will be issuing an Executive Order to expand openings of certain businesses and activities. The Governor also announced new guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on graduation ceremonies and the creation of Surge Response Teams to combat any COVID-19 flare ups in Texas.

“Texas is in a position to continue opening parts of our economy because of the efforts and determination of the people of Texas,” said Governor Abbott. “Over the past month, Texans have worked together to contain the spread of COVID-19 by following social distancing practices and staying at home whenever possible. As we move forward, I urge all Texans to continue following these social distancing guidelines and the health standards we have provided. With every Texan doing their part, we will contain COVID-19, we will unleash our entrepreneurs, and we will make it through this challenge together.”

The Governor was joined for the press conference by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) Acting Executive Commissioner Phil Wilson, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, and Adjutant General of Texas Maj. Gen. Tracey Norris.

Per the Governor’s announcement, wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings may immediately open. Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25%. Wedding reception services may also resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25% of the total listed occupancy. These occupancy limits do not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception or to outdoor wedding receptions.

Beginning May 8, cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade, may open, but all such salons, shops, and establishments must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations. Tanning salons may also reopen under the same limitation. Also starting May 8, swimming pools may open subject to certain limitations, including on their occupancy or operating levels.

Beginning May 18, office buildings may open with the greater of five or less individuals or 25% of the total office workforce. These individuals must maintain appropriate social distancing. Gyms, exercise facilities, and exercise classes may also open on May 18, but must operate at 25% occupancy. Locker rooms and shower facilities will remain closed, but restrooms may open. Non-essential manufacturing services may also open on May 18 but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25%.

These newly opened services are subject to recommended minimum standard health protocols outlined by DSHS. These protocols will be available on the Open Texas webpage.

During the press conference, Chief Kidd and Commissioner Wilson provided details on the newly formed Surge Response Teams. These teams are led by TDEM and HHSC and include representatives from the the Texas Military Department, DSHS, the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, and BCFS Health and Human Services. Surge Response Teams will serve nursing homes, prisons, packing pants, and other facilities that experience flare ups of COVID-19 by providing personal protective equipment, testing supplies, onsite staffing, and assessment assistance. These teams will also work with local officials to establish health and social distancing standards to contain these flare ups. Several Surge Response Teams have already been deployed to locations across the state. Chief Kidd and Commissioner Wilson’s presentation is available here.

TEA Commissioner Morath also provided new guidance on class of 2020 graduation ceremonies for Texas school districts. The TEA is providing four different pathways for schools to celebrate their graduating seniors, and each district is at liberty to determine if any of these options best serve the needs and desires of their community:

  • Completely virtual ceremonies that take place entirely online, with the use of videoconference or other technologies.
  • Hybrid ceremonies, which consist of a compilation of videos of students being recognized in person as they celebrate graduation in small groups.
  • Vehicle ceremonies, in which students and their families wait in their cars while other graduates are recognized one at time with their families alongside them.
  • Outdoor in-person ceremonies, which are currently permitted for counties as follows:
    • Between May 15 and May 31, an outdoor ceremony may take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony.
    • An outdoor ceremony may take place in any Texas county on or after June 1.

Full details of the TEA’s graduation ceremony guidance can be found on the TEA website.



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