DALLAS — A salon owner who made national headlines for protesting a state order closing non-essential businesses in Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic, is now speaking out in support of bar owners.
Shelley Luther said a new order Governor Greg Abbott imposed on Friday that calls for bars shut down is discriminatory.
"I don’t think it’s up to the government to make those decisions for us,” Luther said.
The governor’s order to close bars comes as COVID-19 cases in the state continue rising dramatically. Abbott says data and doctors are suggesting bars are among common places the novel virus is spreading.
"I'm not sure where all of the hype is coming from, but closing down bars is not the solution," said Luther.
Luther made national headlines in April 2020, after refusing to close her salon when it was deemed a non-essential business. She was sentenced to seven days in jail for violating a court order.
Governor Abbott and other state officials rushed to Luther’s aid back then.
Luther explained, "Here’s the thing, all of us that want businesses open. We are fighting for freedom. We are fighting for liberty. We’re fighting to make our own choices to be responsible adults.”
The salon owner said she has been speaking with hundreds of bar owners and small businesses across Texas. Among them, are the owners of Harris’ House of Heroes in Dallas. The state recently suspended that bar’s permit for allegedly violating COVID-19 reopening requirements.
Attorney Billy Clark asked, "Why is the governor closing bars? It’s almost as though he’s picking on bar owners at this point, and who knows what’s next?”
Clark represents Harris’ House of Heroes. He says his clients were working with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and were all set to reopen on Friday. The governor’s order came as a surprise.
"What makes a bar that sells 51% alcohol any different from a restaurant that serves 50%?” Clark asked. “There’s really no difference.”
Luther claims bar owners are telling her they are willing to do whatever is needed to fight back against Abbott’s executive order, even if it means peacefully protesting and opening their businesses.
The salon owner says she believe the governor is backtracking on the rationale that had him coming to fight for her decision to keep her shop open.
“I think he’s totally backtracking,” Luther said. “If he is saying that he didn’t believe that I should be shut down, or I should be penalized or go to jail, then why is it okay to penalize these small business owners that are bar owners as well? We all have to be treated equally. It’s all the same.”
More on WFAA:
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- As Gov. Abbott closes bars weeks after allowing them to reopen, bar owners grapple with uncertainty
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