Hobby Lobby open during coronavirus pandemic, even as other retailers close

National News

(CBS News) — As major U.S. retailers temporarily shut their doors to help contain the coronavirus, Hobby Lobby is assuring consumers that it’s safe to keep shopping. The arts-and-crafts chain is keeping stores open in states that have yet to order non-essential businesses to close.

On its website, Hobby Lobby stated that it’s taking measures to keep shoppers and workers from becoming infected, including “enhanced cleaning” and a ban on international travel. 

“If an employee is suspected of having COVID-19 based on symptoms and/or known direct or indirect exposure, we will send that employee for medical care and to self-isolate at home, and will promptly coordinate with public health officials,” the company, which has a total of 900 stores around the U.S., said.

According to a report by the Christian Post, a letter penned by Hobby Lobby founder David Green offered assurances of sorts to his company’s more than 43,000 workers in 46 states. 

“We serve a God who will Guide us through this storm, who will Guard us as we travel to places never seen before, and who, as a result of this experience, will Groom us to be better than we could have ever thought possible before now,” according to the publication, which included an image of the missive

“We may all have to ‘tighten our belts’ over the near future” to ensure the company’s ongoing prosperity, the note cautioned. 

Hobby Lobby did not return a request for comment. 

The chain appeared to be adhering to restrictions imposed by some states and municipalities. A call to a Hobby Lobby store in Houston, Texas, found it to be open as usual, while calls to stores in North Riverside, Illinois, and Massapequa Park, New York, went unanswered. The person who answered the phone at a Hobby Lobby store in Columbus, Ohio, said the store was open Monday until 8 p.m. for its “last day” of operation before closing on Tuesday.  

The Oklahoma-based retailer’s stance drew a sharp rebuke from retail analyst Neil Saunders, who wrote in a tweet: “Hobby Lobby, closed Sundays to allow employees time for family and worship. Open during a pandemic because our morals aren’t really all that great.”

Hobby Lobby’s devout Christian owners have made controversial moves in the past, including winning a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling exempting them from providing certain contraceptive coverage for employees. 

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