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Once an item's status is closed, I want to make it read-only so that noone can edit the item or create another workflow instance for that item. There are item-level permissions that can be set, so you can override list-level permissions on an item-by-item basis.Adding this functionality into your existing workflow probably makes the most sense, but of course there is nothing out-of-the-box that Share Point provides you.
Specifically of interest to you is the Grant Permission on Item activity.
Handling of such events is facilitated by event receivers.
We have many Share Point event receiver classes in order to handle variety of events.
I have a list (assume an issues list) and there is a workflow associated with it.
The workflow can adjust the status column of the item to "Closed".