NEW: Hobby Lobby to close all stores, furlough all workers after defying shutdowns

Hobby Lobby reopens as an 'essential business' In areas with stay-at-home orders in place, arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby has reopened as an "essential business."

Hobby Lobby announced Friday that it will close all its stores across the country and furlough nearly all employees without pay after the company initially refused to close locations where strict stay-at-home orders were ordered in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Explore»LAST WEEK: Hobby Lobby tells workers no paid sick leave during national crisis

statement on the company's website said Hobby Lobby will "close the remainder of its stores, and furlough nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, effective Friday, April 3rd, at 8:00 p.m. The stores will remain closed until further notice."

On Wednesday night, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued a cease and desist to Hobby Lobby in response to its refusal to close stores in the state amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Hobby Lobby complied and said it would close stores the same night.

Explore»FROM WEDNESDAY: Hobby Lobby closes stores in response to Ohio AG cease and desist

Prior to that, the company reopened in several states where shutdown orders have been issued, and in at least two cases police were called to force the company’s stores to close, according to a report by Business Insider.

Police forced one of the stores in Wisconsin to close after it briefly opened Monday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. An employee at the store told Business Insider the store was closed but that some workers had showed up to work on projects.

Explore»MORE: A list of retail chains that have closed stores or altered hours

In Jeffersonville, Indiana, authorities forced a store to close after it was open for one hour Monday morning, the CBS-affiliated news outlet WLKY reported, according to Business Insider. Business Insider confirmed that all 19 Hobby Lobby locations in Ohio were open as of Monday afternoon, as were 17 of 20 stores in Wisconsin that were listed on Google as being “temporarily closed.”

Locations around metro Atlanta remained open as of Wednesday. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday announced a statewide shelter-in-place order that was scheduled to go into effect at 6 p.m. Friday.

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