Workers are raising concerns as the 'stay at home' order takes effect in Mecklenburg County on Thursday.

The order requires businesses to close unless they're deemed essential.  That includes gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, and others. However, an employee at a craft store that’s still open is asking why.  

The worker at Michaels said it’s hard to practice social distancing inside the store, but she’s still expected to come to work, and she doesn’t understand why.  WCNC Charlotte has received other emails with similar concerns about the store's decision to stay open.

“Nervous, scared,” Mia Richard, a Michaels store employee.

Richard said she got some unexpected news when she went to work at Michael’s on Wednesday at the Park Road Shopping Center.

“I was told Michaels as a company are considered an essential store, and that caught me off guard because I was concerned on like why an arts and crafts store would be considered essential,” said Richard.

Richard said she saw a company letter at the store, which explained that Michaels is considered essential because it’s a UPS access point.  However, she said there’s no disinfectant where she works and it’s challenging to practice social distancing.

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“I just feel like I have a target on my back almost, just being around so many people in a small space,” said Richard.

Other industries also seem to fall into a grey area with respect to the ‘stay at home’ order.   WCNC Charlotte saw construction workers hard at work on a building in the South End. 

The county’s helpline told WCNC Charlotte construction workers are considered essential, but couldn’t say why.  Later in the afternoon, the Charmeck Joint Information center said construction workers are on the job because of federal guidelines, which consider them part of essential infrastructure.

On Wednesday, Brian Boger was also not if his remodeling work was considered essential.

“I didn't know if I was going to be able to come inside people's homes to do my work,” Boger told WCNC Charlotte.

Richard said she believes Michaels should close its doors like other major retailers.

“It’s hard knowing that the company I work for isn't participating in that,” said Richard. “It almost seems like it's more about the money versus the people.”

WCNC Charlotte reached out to Michaels by phone and through Facebook, but did not hear back.  

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On its website, Michaels listed a phone number and email for a public relations firm, but a person with the PR firm said the company no longer works for Michaels.


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