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Are stores like Hobby Lobby and Mardel essential businesses?

Smith County’s Stay-At-Home order does not list craft or Christian stores as essential businesses.

SMITH COUNTY, Texas — Despite a Stay-at-Home order issued by Smith County officials last week and Governor Abbott on Tuesday, March 31, it seems some non-essential businesses remain open in Tyler.

Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian & Education, founded by the son of Hobby Lobby’s founder, remain open. Signs posted at both of the store’s entrances say they are essential because they sell items small business owners can use. 

The craft store also says it is essential due to the materials it sells which can make masks.

The two Christian businesses have another sign posted as well, which might indicate no more than 10 customers are allowed inside, but the wording is confusing. The signs say no groups larger than 10 can come inside the buildings.

Smith County’s stay-at-home order does not list craft or Christian stores as essential businesses.

It seems Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian & Entertainment found loopholes.

Under Essential Businesses Section III, stores “that maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences,” aka Hobby Lobby’s materials to make masks, can remain open.

Furthermore, Section XV of the order says “businesses that supply other essential businesses with support or supplies necessary to operate” may also remain open.

The City of Tyler is not the only place the craft store chain is continuing business. Officials in states like Colorado and Ohio have sent Hobby Lobby cease and desist letters for the disregard of public safety orders.

Civil penalties could result from not following such executive orders.

CBS19 reached out to Hobby Lobby, Mardel Christian & Education, and Smith County. Neither of the three have responded. 

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