Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
Governors around the country are closing "nonessential" businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Hobby Lobby's CEO reportedly told his employees that a message from God told him to keep the stores open.
Mattress Firm said it will remain open in New York even though the state has closed nonessential businesses, due to a provision in the state's order.
Other businesses like fast food chains and even liquor stores have been deemed essential in most states.
As governors around the country close "nonessential" businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus, some businesses are arguing that their stores are essential.
Michael's and Joann Fabrics told their employees that their stores are essential and will remain open. Hobby Lobby's CEO reportedly told employees that a message from God told him to keep the stores open.
Mattress Firm told its employees that it would remain open in New York even though the state has closed nonessential businesses.
The orders to close nonessential businesses still allow businesses like liquor stores and fast food restaurants in most states to remain open.
Fast-food giants like McDonald's and Chick-fil-A argued to President Donald Trump that they should stay open during the ordeal, saying they can feed people while encouraging social distancing with takeout and drive-thrus.
Here's a look at businesses that are staying open during the coronavirus pandemic — and the arguments they're making for why they're "essential."
Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes
"We have the ability to help feed America," José Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands International, which is the parent company of chains like Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons, told Business Insider's Kate Taylor.
Cil, along with executives from McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, and other fast-food businesses, spoke with President Donald Trump on Tuesday about their role during the coronavirus epidemic.
"The challenge here is that when you're dealing with a circumstance like this, if we don't utilize businesses like Burger King, Tim's and Popeyes ... It's really difficult for Americans to be fed, because it's going to be difficult for them to get all their other food and necessities from the supermarket," Cil told Business Insider.
In most states where "nonessential" businesses have been closed, fast-food restaurants have been allowed to remain open for carry-out or drive-thru customers.
Chain restaurants like Burger King and McDonald's provide food to people tight on time, like healthcare workers, or people who still have to travel for work, like truck drivers.
Mattress Firm told its employees that it would be staying open in New York — even though it doesn't fall under one of the categories deemed essential by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — because of a loophole in the order.
The order to close nonessential businesses allows businesses to stay open if they only have one employee staffing the location.
"We have concluded that opening and operating stores and warehouses in New York will not violate the order," the company told employees in a memo leaked to Business Insider and confirmed by a Mattress Firm spokesperson.
"We will single-staff all the retail store locations and will continue to operate the warehouses in the state with the social distancing and sanitation practices that have been recommended," the memo said.
The mattress-purchasing process is not easily adapted to social distancing, one employee told Business Insider's Alex Nicoll, who reported the memo. The employee, who works at a Mattress Firm outside of New York, said customers have continued to offer hand shakes, and that they usually test out mattresses before purchasing.
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
Michaels told employees that its stores are "essential" and "here for the makers."
Outgoing CEO Mark Cosby and incoming CEO Ashley Buchanan told workers in a leaked memo obtained by Business Insider's Bethany Biron that the stores would stay open, and told employees that they are "an essential workforce."
Michaels stores are "fundamental" for business owners, teachers, and parents who are "looking to take their minds off a stressful reality," the memo said.
A Michaels spokesperson said that stores have temporarily closed in states with orders to do so, like New York and New Jersey.
But a manager at one of the craft stores told Business Insider that she's asked "on a daily basis by customers" why Michaels is still open.
"We ask ourselves the same thing," the employee said. "We clearly aren't important to our CEO. He is putting his hardworking employees and customers at risk."
"For the stores that remain open, we are sanitizing heavily trafficked and hard surfaces frequently and encouraging social distancing," the spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider. "We strongly encourage our Team Members that are not comfortable working in our stores or facilities to speak to their managers about their options."
Joann Fabrics' CEO said in a leaked memo obtained by Business Insider's Bethany Biron that the company performs "essential business activities" and "supplies both home-based businesses and healthcare professionals with the supplies needed to operate and thus, must continue to operate."
In a letter to employees, Joann CEO Wade Miquelon said stores have received orders from hospitals for fabrics, elastic, and vinyl.
He added that Joann was "directly supplying" hospitals including Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, but a spokeswoman for Cleveland Clinic said she had "not heard of this." A spokeswoman for University Hospitals said that its supply of protective equipment was "adequate at this time."
Joann did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, but an employee said he is being forced to continue to work even though he has a preexisting heart condition.
"I'm poor, but I feel like I'll be fine through this," he said. "I just want to stay home. This has been a strain on everybody. I don't feel this company is putting our best interests at heart."
Hobby Lobby's chief executive told employees that a message from God told him to keep stores open, according to an apparent copy of the letter posted to Twitter.
Founder David Green told employees that his wife, Barbara, who he described as a "prayer warrior," was told by God that the company will by guided "through this storm" and "as we travel to places never seen before."
Hobby Lobby did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment. Read the note below:
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