Dillards to close all stores after visit from Fire Marshal

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hours after ABC13 visited an open Dillards store, the company has said it will comply with the Harris County stay home order and close all of its stores.

Local stores had stayed open even though it did not fall under any of the essentials exemption categories.

Fire Marshal inspectors spent more than two hours at the Galleria area store. Late in the afternoon, Dillard's corporate offices told ABC13 it will comply with the stay home work safe order.

Earlier Wednesday, through a Facebook Live video, ABC13's Miya Shay was inside the business. There were no customers in sight, but the Eyewitness News reporter said a full staff is working.

WATCH: Miya Shay's full Facebook Live inside Dillard's
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Watch ABC13's Miya Shay inside the Dillard's store in The Galleria that opened for business despite a Houston-wide "stay home."

Dillard's operating Wednesday is significant as the emergency order, which is meant to strictly stop or slow the spread of COVID-19, began to take effect.

Under the order, businesses that are considered essential under federal guidelines can remain open. The guidelines state 16 specific industries that fall under the "essential" designation.

SEE ALSO: What are 'essential businesses' under Harris County's Stay Home - Work Safe order?

One of the industries is essential retail, which holds the following criteria, according to federal guidelines:

Food producers and service providers, including grocery stores, warehouse stores, furniture suppliers, big box stores, bodegas, liquor stores, gas stations and convenience stores, farmers' markets that sell food products and household staples. Food cultivation, including farming, ranching, fishing, and livestock. Food production, including the production of canned goods, bottled beverages and other grocery items. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery, drive-thru or carry-out. Schools and other entities that typically provide free services to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. The restriction of delivery or carry-out does not apply to cafes and restaurants located within hospital and medical facilities. Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers. Gas stations, auto supply, auto and bicycle repair, hardware stores, and related facilities. Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home.

Arkansas-based Dillard's is described as a luxury department store chain with about 289 stores in 29 states, mainly clothing and apparel for men, women, juniors and children.

Later in the afternoon, the Houston fire marshal arrived at the store to find out why it was still open.

ABC13 reached out to Dillard's for comment about the opening.

A spokeswoman for Dillard's offered this statement:

"We are fully cooperating with any government directives in our markets and promptly closing under those guidelines. Importantly, we are strictly following CDC guidelines for the safety of our associates and the customers who choose to visit us where open. No associate who is uncomfortable working is required to do so. We believe continuing to operate using current safety standards is the best thing we can do long term for our associates and for the economy."

Earlier Wednesday, both Houston and Harris County leaders announced hotlines to anyone who believe his or her employer can be considered non-essential.

The county said it received about 1,500 calls since the hotline opened, ranging from restaurant complaints to questions about who should stay home.

SEE MORE: What to do if you think your employer is non-essential
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In a Wednesday morning briefing, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner outlined the city's order to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

Follow Miya Shay on Twitter and Facebook.

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