Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Pledges To Decriminalize Social Distancing Violations After Salon Owner Jailed

(Photo by Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images)

Font Size:

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pledged Thursday to end the jailing of business owners who refuse to comply with coronavirus restrictions.

Abbott joined other Texas lawmakers in decrying the jailing of a salon owner who kept her business open in defiance of lockdown orders, saying Thursday that “criminals shouldn’t be released to prevent COVID-19 just to put business owners in their place.” (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Fauci Says Coronavirus ‘Not A Major Threat’ To U.S.)

“Throwing Texans in jail whose biz’s shut down through no fault of their own is wrong,” Abbott said. “I am eliminating jail for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, superseding local orders.”

Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther was sentenced to 7 days in jail earlier this week after refusing to apologize for keeping her business open. After Dallas County Judge Eric Moye criticized Luther for “selfishly” keeping her business open, Luther said she would not apologize for attempting to support her family. (RELATED: ‘Waco’: A Timely, Must-Watch Series In An Authoritarian Age)

“I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I’m selfish because feeding my kids is not selfish,” Luther told the judge. “I have hairstylists that are going hungry because they would rather feed their kids  So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I am not going to shut the salon.”

Republicans in the state have lauded Luther for her defiance, while criticizing Moye’s decision.

“Shelley Luther should immediately be released from jail. Locking her up is a misguided abuse of power, especially considering Dallas County released real criminals to ‘protect them from COVID-19,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said Wednesday. “Release her now so she can return to her family.”