OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — After several days of hearing from Hobby Lobby employees concerned the company isn’t closing stores and the distribution center amid the coronavirus outbreak, stores are now closed after Governor Stitt signed an executive memorandum. However, some employees who work at the corporate headquarters complex told KFOR some buildings there are still operating business as usual.
“We definitely don’t feel like we are an essential company,” an employee who works for Hobby Lobby at the corporate headquarters told News 4. “I’m personally feeling scared for myself and others."
He said that's because after Governor Kevin Stitt signed an executive memorandum on Wednesday, closing all non-essential businesses in counties with positive cases of COVID-19, he said his department at Hobby Lobby is still required to come to work.
“They gave us a letter and on the letter it says that it’s for cyber security and infrastructure agency, which we do not fall under that,” he said.
On Stitt's memo, the list of essential retails reads, "Commercial retail stores, that supply essential sectors, including convenience stores, general merchandise stores, liquor, pet supply stores, auto supplies and repair, hardware and home improvement, and home appliance retailers."
“When somebody asked how or why we are considered essential, they said we cannot answer that,” the employee said. “Incredibly irresponsible to keep hundreds of people in this building working to touch, you know, a hundred products a day."
News 4 has been trying to reach the company all week after receiving countless emails and calls from employees who are concerned. We haven't received a response.
We've also received some calls about construction on downtown OKC's new convention center.
“Construction falls under the essential services part of that amended order,” Kirk Mammen, the area manager and vice president for OKC's Flintco construction office, told KFOR Thursday.
So for them, it's business as usual too.
“We’re deemed essential. We can keep moving forward on all of our projects," Mammen said. "All the precautionary measures that we’ve done have remained in place and we actually try to improve them each day."
Employees of Hobby Lobby told News 4 the employees of the distribution center and other departments who have been sent home are having to use vacation and sick leave in order to get paid while they are home.