Dallas authorities have forced Hobby Lobby stores to shutter after the craft chain stayed opened despite county-wide orders for non-essential businesses to close temporarily to curb the spread of the CCP virus, commonly knows as novel coronavirus.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told a press conference on Thursday that a cease-and-desist order would be issued to the Hobby Lobby Corporation, Dallas News reported.
After the presser, sheriff’s deputies went to Hobby Lobby stores in North Dallas and Garland and taped the orders to storefront doors, Courthouse News reported.
“Attention other non-essential businesses who aren’t complying: Don’t be next,” Jenkins wrote on Twitter, sharing a photograph of the order posted on a front door window.
“If you do not immediately comply with the Order, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office may take all appropriate measures,” the order states, noting that violation “may be punished criminally as a misdemeanor.”
He said violators could face a $1,000 fine and up to six months behind bars.
“I just want to make it clear to Hobby Lobby and anybody who is foolish enough to follow in their footsteps that in Dallas County, the government and 99.9 percent of businesses put public health over profits,” he said, according to Dallas News.
In another post, Jenkins urged people to report non-essential businesses that were ignoring the temporary closure order.
“Most businesses are stepping up helping their employees and acting in compliance with the law. Companies that put profits over public health are a slap in the face to closed businesses and our residents focused on health,” Jenkins wrote.
Officials in Ohio and Colorado also took action against Hobby Lobby after reports showed the firm had re-opened some locations in defiance of stay-at-home orders.
“For the avoidance of doubt, and as you have been previously notified, Hobby Lobby is not a ‘critical business,'” attorney general Phil Weiser’s office stated in a letter obtained by ABC News. “You are directed to immediately close all Hobby Lobby locations within the State of Colorado.”
Hobby Lobby on Wednesday closed its stores in Ohio after its attorney general, Dave Yost, sent a cease-and-desist letter.
“Hobby Lobby properly closed its stores during Ohio’s stay-home order. Now they’re open again—what’s changed?” Yost wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “Neither the order, nor the seriousness of the health threat, for sure.”
“Same rules for everybody. It’s hard. It hurts. But it’s about saving lives,” he wrote in a follow-up post.
In an internal March 28 memo reported on by Business Insider, a Hobby Lobby executive provided instructions to employees about what they should say to intervening authorities to convince them the business is essential.
According to the report, Hobby Lobby stores put up signs in support of the “essential” claim, saying they were “offering PPE mask supplies, educational supplies, office supplies and various components for at-home small businesses.”
Jenkins rejected this claim, saying arts and craft stores did not meet the essential business criteria as outlined in the Critical Infrastructure Security Act, Dallas News reported.
In Texas, county judges are elected chief executives of counties—these are administrative positions with no judicial function.