Texas Governor Greg Abbott modified his COVID-19 executive orders on Thursday, effectively setting free a woman jailed for refusing to close her business.
Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther is serving a seven-day jail sentence for violating statewide stay-at-home orders. She reopened her business nearly two weeks ago and publicly tore up a cease-and-desist letter ordering her to close.
Abbott modified his orders to eliminate confinement as a punishment, and specifically named Luther in his announcement. The modifications are being applied retroactively to April 2, according to a press release from his office.
"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," Abbott said in the release. "That is why I am modifying my executive orders to ensure confinement is not a punishment for violating an order."
Abbott said the order "supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther."
He added that "it may also ensure" the release of Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata, who were arrested in Laredo, Texas, for allegedly advertising and providing cosmetic services inside their homes.
"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," he said.