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Three Maine Hobby Lobby outlets reopened on Monday after state officials deemed the stores essential to the fight the coronavirus because they sell fabric used to make face masks.
The businesses originally were among thousands temporarily shut down by Gov. Janet Mills’ stay-at-home executive order on March 31, but her administration reversed that decision because of a more recent revision to federal Centers for Disease Control pandemic guidelines that encourage the wearing of cloth masks while in public, said Kate Foye, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
Identical letters sent to the stores in Auburn, Bangor and Waterville dated April 16 by Maine DECD Commissioner Heather Johnson announced the reversal and outlined the social distancing and crowd control measures the stores must follow during the pandemic.
DECD has fielded approximately 2,500 essential business designation requests since March 31, Foye said in an email.
With a corporate headquarters in Oklahoma, Hobby Lobby has more than 900 stores nationwide. Hobby Lobby stores sell arts and crafts supplies including fabrics plus raw materials for picture framing, jewelry making, floral, party and wedding supplies, cards and holiday merchandise.
Mills told reporters during a briefing on Monday that she might reduce restrictions on businesses when the stay-at-home order expires at the end of April. She signaled a shift by saying some restrictions might be lifted gradually based on whether workplaces can “conduct business safely” and not whether businesses are considered “essential.” She said she would announce a plan for extending the order on Tuesday.
Watch: The difference between a face mask and face covering