Hobby Lobby announced Friday night that it is closing all of its United States locations temporarily amid the spread of COVID-19 after facing criticism for remaining open in some locations.
The company added that its furloughing nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees.
Hobby Lobby said that it will maintain medical, dental, life, and long-term disability benefits for employees while furloughed through at least May 1, 2020, and will pay the cost of employee premiums for these benefits on behalf of employees while furloughed without pay.
"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," Hobby Lobby said in a statement.
"Over the past several weeks, we implemented several best practices to provide a safer shopping environment, including the installation of physical barriers between customers and cashiers, enhanced cleaning, and the enforcement of social distancing measures.
"We are prepared to reopen our stores in a responsible way when the current situation improves, and look forward to welcoming our valued customers back to our stores. Until then, we pray for those affected by the virus, protection for the health care professionals caring for the sick, economic security for all impacted businesses and employees, and wisdom for our leaders."
Earlier in the week, leaders in Ohio were dismayed to find out Hobby Lobby locations reopened after originally honoring stay-at-home orders in the state. The company said that it is an essential business because customers could find fabrics to use for masks inside the store.
But Hobby Lobby's reasoning did not satisfy state leaders, as Ohio then issued a cease-and-desist letter in an effort to get the company to comply.
"Hobby Lobby properly closed its stores during Ohio’s stay-home order. Now they’re open again — what’s changed? Neither the order, nor the seriousness of the health threat, for sure," Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said.