While Jo-Ann, Michael’s, Christmas Tree Shops and other “fun” stores closed their stores to regular shoppers (Jo-Ann offering online purchasing and curbside pick-up for the most part), Hobby Lobby maintained that it was an “essential” business to some shoppers’ delight and many others’ criticism.
Today, the company sent out this press release stating that they were going to comply with the nation’s experts’ recommendations to close all non-essential businesses in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Here’s what they stated:
As the country continues efforts to manage and mitigate the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus, Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, 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.
In order to allow our furloughed employees to take full advantage of the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Recovery Rebates provided to eligible employees by the federal government, we are ending emergency leave pay and suspending the use of Company provided paid time off benefits (PPTO and Vacation) in accordance with the requirements outlined in the CARES Act (subject to State law requirements). However, we will maintain medical, dental, life, and long-term disability benefits for employees while furloughed through at least May 1, 2020, and will pay the cost of employee premiums for these benefits on behalf of employees while furloughed without pay. We encourage furloughed employees to file their claims with their State’s unemployment commissions as soon as possible. Upon return, employees will retain their original dates of hire and any accrued PPTO and Vacation. Our sincere gratitude goes out to our dedicated employees at this difficult time, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome them back, once we are able to reopen.
We know our customers relied on us to provide essential products, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who are now educating their children from home, and the thousands of small arts and crafts businesses who rely on us for supplies to make their products. Over the past several weeks, we implemented several best practices to provide a safer shopping environment, including the installation of physical barriers between customers and cashiers, enhanced cleaning, and the enforcement of social distancing measures. We are prepared to reopen our stores in a responsible way when the current situation improves, and we look forward to welcoming our valued customers back to our stores. Until then, we pray for those affected by the virus, protection for the health care professionals caring for the sick, economic security for all impacted businesses and employees, and wisdom for our leaders.
As another critical step in Connecticut’s ongoing effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Lamont has issued an Executive Order requiring businesses to suspend in-person operations for all non-essential functions by Monday, March 23 at 8:00 p.m. Even essential businesses are encouraged to implement telecommuting or safe work-from-home procedures.
This order does not apply to businesses providing essential services or functions — such as healthcare, infrastructure, manufacturing, grocery stores, gas stations, food service, and law enforcement. You can find complete guidelines on these exemptions as well as an online request form you’ll need to submit if you believe your business qualifies for an exemption from this order. Our goal was to make the list of essential businesses as broad as possible while still meeting the public health objectives. I encourage businesses to review the guidance carefully and apply for a waiver only if necessary.
DECD (Department of Economic Community Development) has created a COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit dedicated to assisting businesses to navigate this process reachable at DECD.COVID19@ct.gov. We are working around the clock to support our Connecticut businesses during these extremely difficult times. DECD will also be launching more assistance for small and medium-sized businesses that are impacted by COVID-19 in the coming days.
For more information about the coronavirus and how to keep yourself, your co-workers and your employees safe, please go to ct.gov/coronavirus.
David Lehman, Commissioner
With two newer Big Y grocery stores in the area (Milford and Derby) Orange residents have been taking advantage of the opportunity to take their business there. Therefore this message from the Big Y CEO regarding safety protocols during the Coronavirus situation is relevant for Orange Live to publish.
Dear Customers and Friends,
We are committed to doing our very best to service our communities and to ensure the health and wellness of our customers, employees and vendors as we monitor how the coronavirus (COVID-19) affects us all. We continue to assess the situation and make adjustments as necessary. We have had a high-level, cross-functional team in place for the past several years in order to plan for a variety of different scenarios that may affect our business so that we can respond accordingly.
Over the past several weeks, we have continued to closely monitor guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) along with state and local agencies and health officials in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. Here are some of the steps we are taking:
- We have increased our everyday cleaning and sanitizing procedures in all areas of our stores including increased presence of hand sanitizers at all entrances and registers.
- We have renewed emphasis that all employees who handle unpackaged food wear gloves as part of our on-going strict food safety policies.
- We have increased our cleaning procedures in all departments.
- We have discontinued all sampling practices indefinitely.
- We have stopped all school tours and in-store children’s birthday parties until further notice.
- We continue to educate our customers on proper handwashing techniques. Click here to view our video.
- We encourage customers to wash all produce thoroughly.
- We discourage all hand shaking and physical contact.
- We have instituted travel bans for all employees traveling to conferences and seminars.
For customers who don’t want to visit any of our stores, we remind you that you can order online for delivery to your home through our partnership with Instacart.
We continue to work closely with our suppliers to keep high demand items in stock. In some cases, these products are on allocation throughout the country but rest assured that we are moving quickly to re-stock as soon as possible. In an effort to be fair to all of our customers, we may need to impose purchase limits on certain items that are in short supply. We ask for your patience regarding supply disruptions.
Thank you for your continued support. Our hearts go out to anyone affected by COVID-19. We want to protect the health and safety of our employees and their families, our customers and our communities. We will continue to update you on any new developments as they arise.
For additional information about the Coronavirus, visit the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website.
Charles L. D’Amour
President and CEO, Big Y