Opinion

Undercover cops bust home-based cosmetologists for not social distancing

Two undercover police officers in Laredo, Texas, took time out of their busy crime fighting schedule to bust two women who were performing beauty treatments in their homes.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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Two undercover police officers in Laredo, Texas, took time out of their busy crime fighting schedule to bust two women who were performing beauty treatments in their homes. The two women were in violation of a local quarantine order when they provided eyelash and manicure services in their homes, and as such, they were arrested.

Brenda Stephanie Mata and Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia had found customers via social media, and it was in this way that undercover officers came to discover the unauthorized beauty services. Officers went to the women’s homes under the pretense of partaking of their services.

Upon discovery of the illegal nail salon and eyelash business, the women were arrested.

The women were undoubtedly trying to earn an income during this pandemic, where so many people are out of work. Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz had declared that beauty businesses were non-essential and should be shuttered in order to help contain the spread of coronavirus in the area.

This was standard procedure for small towns and municipalities that were trying to deal with what was expected to be an insane amount of death. If the images coming out of China and Europe could be believed, Saenz was fearing that people would be dropping dead in the streets. However, the effects of coronavirus on Laredo have not reached the point of extremity that convinced these women that not earning an income was a luxury they could not afford.

Police have become the means through which executive orders regarding social distancing and business closures have been enforced. There are no new means in place to mete out punishments that do not directly contradict those pandemic panic measures.

As such, police who want to enforce business closure laws must violate social distancing in order to do so. When they arrest those who dare to try to earn a living, they have to be in direct contact with them, exacerbating the violation of those very orders they are attempting to enforce.

Police, too, must find it confusing to be the last line of defense in keeping people apart and preventing citizens from being able to financially support themselves and their families. While many municipalities were releasing prisoners in order to avoid a prison outbreak, ordinary law abiding citizens are fined and arrested for behaving in ordinary ways, like going to parks, walking with friends, and in this case, attempting to earn an income.

Mata and Castro-Garcia were charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which comes with a fine of up to $2,000 or 180 days in jail. Each of the home-based cosmetologists had to pay $500 in bail before they were released.

At the time of writing, Laredo has conducted 2,293 coronavirus tests, with 1,485 negative results. There have been 102 recoveries, and 16 deaths, while 450 tests are still pending.

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