Due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the majority of non-essential retail stores have shut their doors in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus. The same cannot be said for GameStop, where employees have been instructed to ignore law enforcement, according to Vice.
GameStop supposedly released a memo to workers advising them to tell local authorities that their establishment is “classified as essential retail and therefore is able to remain open during this time.”
Vice is reporting that the document even includes a flyer and a phone number for the chain’s corporate office that can be given to police officers if they question their decision to keep their doors open during the pandemic.
The news of these flyers came from multiple employees from across the country who spoke with Vice Games and showed them copies of the instructions they received from corporate.
As for the reasoning behind branding GameStop, an “essential” retail store, the memo claims that the retailer’s merchandise can aid people who are now working from home.
One employee told the outlet that they were “essentially” told to “disobey law enforcement.”
Despite the memos, it is not yet clear if any store has attempted to ignore authorities.
Earlier this week, Vice reported that GameStop was struggling to figure out how to operate amid the pandemic. Employees have allegedly been unable to get enough cleaning supplies and have had to resort to supplying their own or getting them from other stores.
Allegedly, GameStop is not allowing its workers any extended sick leave or paid time off. Instead, they’re being instructed to use “existing time off options.”
To ensure we adhere to CDC-recommended social distancing guidelines, we will be selling DOOM Eternal a day early on Thursday, 3/19 as a safety precaution for our customers and associates. Animal Crossing will release on Friday 3/20 to further help separate the crowds.— GameStop (@GameStop) March 19, 2020
These decisions are particularly alarming this week as two major video game releases — Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons — are scheduled for March 20 and expected to draw sizable crowds. The only real effort the chain has made to mitigate these crowds is canceling midnight launch releases and deciding to sell Doom Eternal today while keeping Animal Crossing set for tomorrow.
Seemingly in response to the backlash, the official GameStop Twitter account has released a statement outlining the measures they’re taking to keep customers and employees safe during the outbreak. Nothing in their statement refutes the aforementioned employee claims.
We are working diligently during this unprecedented time to provide our customers & associates with the safest environment possible. Please see below for details on new changes we are enacting & click here for our full statement: https://t.co/qP9jDQUmjs pic.twitter.com/d99kxviz7Q— GameStop (@GameStop) March 19, 2020
“Youre not ‘essential retail.’ Youre a LUXURY store. You just want to capitalize on spring break & the ‘no school/work’ situation cuz MONEY. As a former employee who quit because of the inhumane treatment, I didnt expect y’all to stoop this low but Im also not surprised by it,” tweeted one angry user in response to GameStop’s post.