Arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby has been ordered to shut its stores after the retailer reopened them by defying stay-at-home orders in various states amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said on Twitter that he sent a cease-and-desist letter following which the retailer agreed to close its stores on Wednesday night.
“I received a phone call within the hour from the general counsel of Hobby Lobby, informing us they were closing their stores tonight in Ohio in compliance with our cease-and-desist letter,” Yost tweeted.
Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby reopened its stores in Ohio after initially closing them following Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order.
Earlier this week, Hobby Lobby reopened stores in several other states too, where it was forced to temporarily close due to stay-at-home orders following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company reopened stores in states including Ohio, Colorado and Wisconsin, among other states where strict shelter-in-place orders were issued.
At least 32 states in the U.S. have ordered the closure of non-essential businesses in order to promote social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
However, Hobby Lobby has insisted it is operating as an “essential business“, as it sells educational materials, medical supplies, and products for home-based businesses.
According to reports, several of Hobby Lobby’s stores in Milwaukee were shut down by police shortly after they reopened on Monday.
In Colorado too, Hobby Lobby reportedly received a cease-and-desist letter from Eric Kuhn, the senior assistant state attorney general. In the letter, Kuhn is said to have emphasized that Hobby Lobby is not a “critical” business.
Kuhn has given Hobby Lobby time until Thursday evening to comply with the closing order. The state will seek court relief, including a temporary restraining order, if the retailer does not comply with the order.
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