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Dallas salon owner who defied coronavirus shutdown order to be released from jail

Coronavirus outbreak: Dallas salon owner who defied coronavirus shutdown order to be released from jail
WATCH ABOVE: Shelley Luther, a Texas salon owner who defied coronavirus stay-at-home regulations, is being released from jail.

Shelley Luther, a Texas salon owner who defied coronavirus stay-at-home regulations, is being released from jail.

READ MORE: Salon owner jailed 7 days for defying coronavirus order to shut down

In a Thursday morning tweet, Gov. Greg Abbott said her punishment was unjust. He said he’s “eliminating jail for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, superseding local orders.

“Criminals shouldn’t be released to prevent COVID-19 just to put business owners in their place,” he tweeted.

He added that putting Texans in jail whose businesses shut down “through no fault of their own is wrong.”

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Court documents show that Luther’s release was ordered by the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday morning after she was jailed on Tuesday.

“The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a letter to District Judge Eric Moyé. “His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.

“As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option.”

READ MORE: Park ranger pushed into lake while telling crowd about coronavirus rules

Many are critical of the decision to let Luther go free, with one person tweeting back to Abbott: “Tell Karen to follow the rules like the rest of us.”

“You are endangering the welfare of all Texans,” another commented.

Luther was originally sentenced to a week behind bars under the court-ordered punishment, which comes amid broader efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

She was jailed on Tuesday and fined $7,000, per CBS Dallas Forth Worth.

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READ MORE: As businesses reopen, here’s what to know about going back to work safely

During Tuesday’s hearing, Luther told Moyé that feeding her kids “is not selfish,” according to ABC13.

“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.”

Luther refused to shut down her Salon a la Mode business last month under the governor’s sweeping stay-at-home order, which affects all non-essential businesses, including nail salons. She kept the shop open even after receiving a citation, a cease and desist letter and a restraining order, the court heard.

Salon owner Shelley Luther, centre, listens to Dallas City officials as a reflection of a supporter filming them is seen from outside Luther’s reopened Salon A la Mode in Dallas, Friday, April 24, 2020.
Salon owner Shelley Luther, centre, listens to Dallas City officials as a reflection of a supporter filming them is seen from outside Luther’s reopened Salon A la Mode in Dallas, Friday, April 24, 2020. AP Photo/LM Otero

Luther, who also runs Hot Mess Enterprises, openly tore up her cease and desist order last week at an anti-lockdown event called “Open Texas.”

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Anti-lockdown activists in the United States have rallied to Luther’s cause, and a GoFundMe page to help her business has raised more than US$273,000 to date.

The page describes the hair salon owner as an “American Hero.”

— With files from Global News reporter Josh K. Elliott

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca