Joann Fabrics craft stores not essential, must close
LANSING – The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has warned the craft retail chain Joann Fabrics to close its doors to in-person shoppers under a statewide executive order intended to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In a “stay home, stay safe” directive that took effect March 24, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered nonessential businesses to shut their doors. But, as the Lansing State Journal reported the next day, Joann Fabrics locations remained open.
Joann Fabrics asked the office of Michigan Attorney General’s Office for confirmation that the craft stores were necessary to sustain life. The attorney general’s office disagreed and, in a letter sent Monday, told the businesses to shut down in-person shopping.
“After receiving the Department’s letter, JoAnn Fabrics stores in the state appear to have modified their business operations to comply,” according to a Tuesday afternoon news release from the attorney general.
A Joann spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday evening the store was complying with the order while allowing employees to be paid for fulfilling online and curbside orders.
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Crafters are turning to stores such as Joann Fabrics to make supplies, including homemade face masks, for health care professionals during the outbreak of the new coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says handmade scarves and bandannas can serve as a “last resort,” when no medical masks are available but warns the effectiveness of homemade masks against virus transmission is unknown.
In its response to Joann Fabrics, the attorney general determined the store could still fulfill a need if its merchandise was available online or via curbside pickup.
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âI can appreciate the desire of businesses that want to remain open and provide their customers with the same products and services they have come to expect from these retailers, but there must be common sense protections in place during this global health emergency,â Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement Tuesday. âEmployees should be permitted to work from home whenever possible and businesses that are not necessary to sustaining or protecting life should comply with the order by temporarily suspending in-person operations.”
COVID-19 spreads easily among people often through droplets from a cough or sneeze, health authorities say. Because even asymptomatic people could be transmitting the virus, Whitmer has ordered Michiganders in non-essential jobs to keep six feet of distance from people outside their households.
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Business owners who violate the governor’s “stay home, stay safe” order could be charged with a misdemeanor, facing $ 500 fines or up to 90 days in jail.
Joann Fabrics has not been fined or criminally charged for violating the order, said Ryan Jarvi, the AG’s press secretary.
âI’d like to thank JoAnn Fabrics for its quick response to our letter and for putting the health and safety of Michigan’s residents first in making this decision,â Nessel said in a statement.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Joann Fabrics is encouraging volunteers across the country to make and donate 100 million face masks total.
“We are proud to be helping in this critical mission as our nation, including the state of Michigan, faces the severe shortage of personal protective equipment,” the company said in a statement.
In a video posted by her office earlier this week to YouTube, Nessel clarified that, while hardware stores may remain open, “craft and Hobby Lobby types of stores, on the other hand, should not be open to the public right now.”
Contact Sarah Lehr at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @SarahGLehr.