Salon owner defends decision to reopen: ‘I could create a sterile environment’

By: JOANNE ROSA, ABC News

(DALLAS) — Hair salon owner Shelley Luther doubled down on her decision to open her Dallas business, which repeatedly defied an executive order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott closing businesses like hers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Luther, who had received a citation, a cease and desist letter and a restraining order for keeping her salon open, was ordered to spend a week behind bars after a judge deemed her in contempt of court. Her salon, Salon A La Mode, remained open for more than a week after she received the restraining order. She was jailed on Tuesday, May 5, but released less than 48 hours later after Abbott removed jail time as a punishment for violating his coronavirus restrictions.

Luther said on The View Monday that she chose to keep her salon open because she “didn’t want to be the reason why [the hairstylists] weren’t making money.”

She said she initially was willing to shut down that she changed her mind “when the government help was not coming” and when she saw Texas unemployment websites crashing.

“My hairstylists were telling me, ‘Look. I’m about to go to people’s houses to do hair because I just don’t have any money.’ I decided to open because it’s not safe for them, obviously, to be going to people’s houses for them or their clients,” Luther said. “I just felt like if I opened, I could create a sterile environment and make it at least a lot safer and follow [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines and regulations.”

Luther said she had applied for a small business loan but didn’t receive $18,000 in government aid until two days before her hearing, where she was sentenced to a week in jail.

She said on “The View” that there was “no notice” or instructions for how the money should be allocated.

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to spend it; what I’m supposed to spend it on. I know there’s guidelines and regulations to that, and I didn’t want to put myself in deeper debt by spending it the wrong way,” she said.

She also noted that the stylists working in her salon aren’t technically employees, but rather, they are subleasing the space at her salon.

Abbott had ordered all nonessential businesses close for the month of April but lifted restrictions on select businesses like restaurants and malls on the first weekend of May. Restrictions on hair and nail salons were lifted on Friday.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz showed his support for Luther by flying to Dallas on Friday and getting his hair cut at her salon.

“It was a big deal for everybody,” Luther said of Cruz’s visit. “[It] uplifted the spirits of the hairstylists who have been kind of hiding and scared the whole time [that] they were going to get their licenses taken away.”

“To have anybody show up with notoriety that … cared about the situation and stood with us, we would have welcomed in the salon with open arms,” Luther added. “We were very appreciative.”

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