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Hobby Lobby agrees to close stores in Ohio

COLUMBUS — Hobby Lobby agreed on Wednesday evening to close its stores in Ohio after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

The chain had reopened stores in multiple states, in defiance of orders to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The store, which sells arts and craft supplies, had stated it was an essential business. The company’s basis for the claim was that it sold fabric, which could be used in masks, as well as school supplies, which could be used for home school students. The stores had posted signs encouraging shoppers to maintain social distancing while shopping.

The exemptions for stores under Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s orders include grocery and hardware stores, as well as others for needed supplies, but none for craft stores or most retail.

During Wednesday’s news conference, a reporter asked Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine about the company’s defiance of the order.

“Who did you say is staying open?” DeWine asked the reporter to repeat the statement, as he pulled a pen from his jacket and began taking notes.

“Look, everybody needs to follow the law,” the governor said as he was writing.

A few hours after the news conference, Yost announced the chain had agreed to once again close its Ohio stores.

“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 said.