Hobby Lobby has temporarily closed all stores due to the coronavirus

Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

After backlash over keeping its stores open in defiance of some states' shelter-in-place orders, Hobby Lobby announced Friday that it was closing all of its stores.

All of the Oklahoma City-headquartered arts and crafts chain's locations closed at 8 p.m. Friday and will remain closed until further notice, according to a notice posted on its website.

"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," the notice said.

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Hobby Lobby is encouraging furloughed employees to apply for unemployment benefits, which would include the extra $600 per week as part of the $2.2-trillion economic stimulus bill. The retailer says it is ending "emergency leave pay," suspending paid time off benefits and will offer benefits including health care to furloughed employees "through at least May 1."

Earlier in the week, some Hobby Lobby stores in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Colorado were shut down by law enforcement after reopening, defying the states' shelter-in-place orders. 

The company had said in memos sent to managers that it considered itself an essential retailer.

"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," Hobby Lobby said Friday in its statement.

Hobby Lobby said stores will reopen "in a responsible way when the current situation improves."

"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," the company's statement said. 

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus store closings: Hobby Lobby temporarily closing all stores