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Governor Abbott modifies COVID-19 Executive Orders to eliminate confinement as a punishment

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AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today modified his executive orders related to COVID-19 to eliminate confinement as a punishment for violating these orders. These modifications are being applied retroactively. 

“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,” said Governor Abbott. “That is why I am modifying my executive orders to ensure confinement is not a punishment for violating an order. This order is retroactive to April 2nd, supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther. It may also ensure that other Texans like Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata who were arrested in Laredo, should not be subject to confinement. 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.”

This comes just a day after both Abbott and AG Ken Paxton called for the “immediate release” of jailed salon owner Shelley Luther.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced yesterday that he would pay the salon owner’s fine. Luther was to pay $3,500 plus $500 per day that her salon was open until Friday, May 8.

Following the announcement of the amended orders, Paxton commended Governor Greg Abbott for the amendment.

“I applaud Gov. Abbott’s decision to ensure that penalties for violating public health orders are reasonable and not excessive. All Texans are trying to get through this crisis together and no one should be put in jail unnecessarily,” said Paxton. “The cases of salon owner, Shelley Luther, and Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata in Laredo are prime examples. No Texan should face jail time for resisting an order that temporarily closes a lawful business in an attempt to feed their families.”

Luther was also sentenced to seven days in jail for violating statewide stay-at-home orders when she reopened her business almost two weeks ago.

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