Hobby Lobby Closes Stores Nationwide, Furloughs Most Employees

Hobby Lobby announced that all of their stores will close tonight and will remain closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 virus. Nearly all of their employees will be furloughed.

The decision to close came after a judge in Dallas County, Texas issued an order to close all local Hobby Lobby stores. Judge Clay Jenkins ruled the stores were nonessential during the pandemic.

“It does not appear that Hobby Lobby meets the criteria in the order,” Jenkins said in the letter to Hobby Lobby’s general counsel Peter Dobelbower. “Our county is facing unprecedented challenges now, and we want to ensure that you are aware of the obligations placed on you.”

Craft store customers in Dallas County found their local stores were closed Friday after Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins ordered them to on Thursday.

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Jenkins said in a letter to Hobby Lobby that the retail category falls under nonessential businesses of the county’s order issued March 22 regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s the company’s statement:

In order to allow our furloughed employees to take full advantage of the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Recovery Rebates provided to eligible employees by the federal government, we are ending emergency leave pay and suspending use of Company provided paid time off benefits (PPTO and Vacation) in accordance with the requirements outlined in the CARES Act (subject to State law requirements).  However, we 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 encourage furloughed employees to file their claims with their State’s unemployment commissions as soon as possible.  Upon return, employees will retain their original dates of hire and any accrued PPTO and Vacation.  Our sincere gratitude goes out to our dedicated employees at this difficult time, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome them back, once we are able to reopen.

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.  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.

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