A large number of local business owners plan to gather on the south steps of Laredo City Hall on Wednesday morning to rally for the further reopening of Texas, which began two weeks ago under Gov. Greg Abbott.
One of the speakers slated to attend is Shelley Luther, a Dallas salon owner who has become an emblem of what some deem to be local overreach during this COVID-19 emergency.
After opening her salon in the midst of a stay at home order, she was cited, sentenced to a week in county jail and then released after Abbott modified his executive orders to eliminate jail time as a penalty for violating COVID-19 emergency orders.
Abbott named Luther and two Laredo women as examples of business owners who should not be thrown into jail due to a shutdown that is “of no fault of their own.”
Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia, 31, and Brenda Stephanie Mata, 20, were arrested and released on bond on April 15 for offering beauty services from their home during the stay at home order. Neither appear to be licensed cosmetologists with the state.
Luther has said that she plans to donate some of the $500,000 she has collected from a GoFundMe account to Castro-Garcia and Mata.
The rally on Wednesday is organized by a few local business owners, one of whom is Hugo Llanas, a local salon owner.
He said they are not against the city per se, but against government overreach. This will be an apolitical event, he noted.
Llanas has never considered himself an organizer, but a few weeks ago thought of holding this rally in support of local businesses such as his that were forced closed. Beauty salons may now open provided they keep a 6-foot social distance between work stations, use disposable supplies and sanitize between each customer visit.
The overreach this group is opposing is the city’s 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, which Llanas believes is hurting business. Although the city’s curfew does not apply to the businesses that the governor has allowed to open.
Llanas said they expect around 150 people to show up to the rally, but he is not concerned about the possible spread of the virus in what could be an atmosphere of close contact. Attendees may wear masks only if they so choose, he said.
“We’re responsible adults and we don’t need the government telling us how to handle ourselves,” Llanas said.
The main goal of the event is to show how many people were affected by the stay at home order. Not everyone can afford to stay home, Llanas said.
Julia Wallace may be reached at 956-728-2543 or [email protected]