(NEW YORK) — Hobby Lobby finally closed all of its stores in the U.S. after the craft supplies company received backlash for staying open in at least one state amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly all of the store employees will be furloughed, as well as a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, according to a statement from the company.
The closure and furlough took effect Friday evening and will remain in place until further notice, the statement read.
On Wednesday, stores in Colorado were still open despite being deemed a nonessential business and ordered to close. The office of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser then sent a cease and desist letter to the Hobby Lobby.
In the company’s statement announcing it would close, it appeared to defend its previous decision to remain open.
“We know our customers relied on us to provide essential products, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who are now educating their children from home, and the thousands of small arts and crafts businesses who rely on us for supplies to make their products,” according to the statement.
The company also detailed the measures it took to provide a safer shopping environment, including installing physical barriers between customers and cashiers.
While the stores are closed, the company is ending its emergency leave pay and paid time off benefits. Employees will still have medical, dental, life, and long-term disability benefits for employees while furloughed through at least May 1, 2020, according to Hobby Lobby’s statement.
The coronavirus crisis in the U.S., which has become the epicenter of the pandemic, caused the majority of the states to order all nonessential businesses to close.
Only nine states have not implemented formal, statewide stay-at-home orders: Arkansas, Iowa (all nonessential businesses closed until April 7), Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma (closed all nonessential businesses), South Carolina (closed all nonessential businesses), South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming (closed all nonessential businesses last Friday).
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