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MI AG orders JoAnn Fabrics to close retail stores during COVID-19 stay home order

joann fabric store exterior
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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has denied JoAnn Fabrics' request to keep its storefront operations open. 

In a letter to the craft and hobby retailer, the Department of Attorney General said the company's on-site operations are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The letter said JoAnn Fabrics should temporarily close its stores to the public to comply with Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order.

The company had argued customers were using its products to make face masks, face shields, and hospital scrubs needed in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. But the department pointed out the same products are available for purchase online, including from JoAnn Fabrics' website, and concluded that the in-store operations are not essential and therefore violate the order.

"I 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," Nessel said in a written statement, noting that reducing person-to-person contact can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The state's website that addresses frequently asked questions about Whitmer's executive orders directs that craft and hobby stores may not remain open to the public.

The Attorney General's office said JoAnn Fabrics stores in Michigan appear to have modified their operations to comply with the executive order.  

Ryan Jarvi, a spokesman for the Attorney General's office, said both Hobby Lobby and Michaels also "appear to be complying."

JoAnn Fabrics did not reply to a request for comment.

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Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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