Virus Outbreak Texas

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, center, stands next to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, during a news conference where the governor announced he would relax some restrictions imposed on businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Monday, April 27, 2020, in Austin, Texas.

(The Center Square) – Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Wednesday offered to pay a fine and serve house arrest on behalf of another Texan and small business owner who was ordered to jail time for opening her hair salon despite state orders.

After Dallas County Judge Eric Moye ignored the demand of the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott demanding that salon owner Shelley Luther be immediately released from jail, Patrick announced he would pay her $7,000 fine and cover the remainder of her seven-day jail sentence.

Luther opened her hair salon business in defiance of the state’s stay-at-home order May 1, before the governor capitulated to allowing hair salons and barber shops to reopen May 8.

On Wednesday, Patrick tweeted, “7 days in jail, no bail and a $7,000 fine is outrageous. No surprise Texans are responding. I’m covering the $7000 fine she had to pay and I volunteer to be placed under House Arrest so she can go to work and feed her kids.”

Earlier in the week, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy urged Texans to contribute to a GoFundMe account to help pay Luther’s legal costs. To date, the fund has raised more than $500,405.

Chip pointed out that in addition to the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation, which is ultimately overseen by Gov. Abbott, the salon’s stylists were allegedly warned that they would lose their licenses if they worked.

“Where is this? This is not Texas. This is not America,” Roy tweeted.

On April 29, Roy said that Gov. Abbott was right to open up Texas, “but we need to finish it so that restaurants aren’t dying with 25 percent limits, and barbers aren’t facing fines and citations for doing their job... particularly ones who haven’t received anything from the PPP (which I will add again... is not money coming from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins but rather from money-on-trees Feds!”

It was not until after Luther was cited and protests erupted throughout the state this past weekend that Gov. Abbott announced on Tuesday the reopening of salons and barbers on May 8, with limitations.

On May 5, Abbott issued another executive order expanding openings of certain businesses and activities and announced new guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for graduation ceremonies. He also announced another new task force designation of Surge Response Teams to combat any COVID-19 flare-ups in Texas. 

According to the order, wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings could immediately open May 5. Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25 percent, the governor said. Wedding reception services may also resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy, which doesn’t apply to 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 work, may open, but must maintain social distancing guidelines of six feet between work stations. Tanning salons may also reopen under the same limitation.

ON May 8, swimming pools may reopen subject to certain limitations, including occupancy or operating levels.

Beginning May 18, office buildings may open with up to 25 percent of the total office workforce, also requiring individuals maintain social distancing guidelines. Gyms, exercise facilities, and exercise classes may also open on May 18, but only at 25 percent occupancy. Non-essential manufacturing services may also reopen May 18, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25 percent, according to the order.