Prosecutors in Monterey County opened an investigation into craft retailer Hobby Lobby this week after receiving a complaint that the business was not complying with county and statewide shelter-in-place orders enacted during the coronavirus pandemic.
The exact complaint submitted to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office is unclear, but it was enough to probe whether Hobby Lobby was in compliance with a section of the California Business and Professions Code that dealt with unfair and deceptive business practices.
The outcome of the investigation skewed in favor of Hobby Lobby after officials with the District Attorney’s office determined the retailer to be an “essential business” as defined by county and state proclamations issued in mid-March.
In a press release, the District Attorney’s office says Hobby Lobby sells cloth and fabrics that can be used by customers to make face masks and other personal protective equipment. That equipment has been promoted by health officials as being effective against the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Other businesses that are allowed to remain open include those that sell equipment needed for work-from-home environments and specific mixed-retail businesses that sell “non-essential” products, the District Attorney’s office said.
After the investigation against Hobby Lobby was launched, customers told local news station KSBW-TV that a store manager limited purchases to “essential” supplies only.