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Hobby Lobby Defies Stay-at-Home Orders by Reopening Stores, Colorado Officials Say – The New York Times

The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby drew a rebuke on Wednesday from Colorado officials, who said the retailer was not complying with stay-at-home orders in the state and must immediately close its stores during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a cease-and-desist letter to the company, W. Eric Kuhn, the senior assistant state attorney general, wrote that it had come to the attention of the Colorado Department of Health that Hobby Lobby had reopened its stores in the state this week.

Mr. Kuhn wrote the company’s actions violated a March 25 executive order signed by Gov. Jared Polis directing Coloradans to stay at home and requiring all businesses to close that were not designated by state health officials as critical.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Hobby Lobby is not a ‘critical business,’” Mr. Kuhn wrote.

Hobby Lobby, which is based in Oklahoma City, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday night.

Colorado’s action against Hobby Lobby comes as governors across much of the United States have signed stay-at-home orders and health authorities have urged Americans to practice social distancing. Still, some haven’t heeded the advice, from spring breakers to some megachurches. In Florida, a pastor was arrested after defying virus orders.

Ohio’s attorney general, Dave Yost, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that he had sent a similar cease-and-desist letter to Hobby Lobby and that the retailer had agreed to close stores in his state.

A locator map on Hobby Lobby’s website showed that there were 10 stores in Colorado.

Mr. Kuhn wrote that Hobby Lobby had until 5 p.m. on Thursday to comply with the closing order or the state would seek court relief, including a temporary restraining order.

Mr. Kuhn’s letter was sent to David Green, the founder and chief executive of Hobby Lobby, which is widely known for its Supreme Court challenge of an Affordable Care Act provision requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage of contraception.

In a 2014 ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and a second company, both of which were owned by Christian families, the Supreme Court said the provision had violated a federal law protecting religious freedom.

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