United States game retailer, GameStop, proclaimed that it would stay open during a global pandemic because it is ‘essential retail’.

In a memo leaked to Kotaku, GameStop told its employees that it is vital the stores stay open during the spread of the deadly Corvid-19 virus.

The memo, reportedly sent throughout the continental United States, stated that “Due to the products we carry that enable and enhance our customers’ experience in working from home, we believe GameStop is classified as essential retail and therefore is able to remain open during this time.”

Whilst what is an ‘essential’ business has been contested recently, with pet stores, truck stops, and hotels working to stay open to accommodate the public, it appears that local authorities don’t agree that being able to buy a cheap hidden object game is an essential service – something GameStop itself is well aware of.

“We have received reports of local authorities visiting stores in an attempt to enforce closure despite our classification,” The memo elaborated. “Store managers are approved to provide the document linked below to law enforcement as needed.”

With a lack of self-protection and cleaning products, no extended sick-leave, and increasingly becoming one of the few places left open for the public to wander to, GameStop employees are, understandably, frustrated by the situation.

“I had a region call and a district call today. Both showed very little care for the employees,” a GameStop manager expressed to Polygon. “The focus is on sales.” Another employee explained that the brand’s official policy, should an employee fall ill with Corvid-19, is to quarantine workers, sanitise the store, and bus in replacements to ensure the location stays open.

After the news broke, GameStop offered an attempted justification for putting its employees at risk:

https://twitter.com/GameStop/status/1240742158434471936

Staying open to profit during a crisis is not only limited to GameStop’s dealings in the US; subsidiary EB Games in Canada has employees expressing similar concerns.

“I am interacting with the public and touching money for all video games and this is not an essential service,” an employee told the Toronto Star.

Fans line up outside an EB Games in 2019. On Wednesday, the company told the Star stores will be open between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. so customers can pick up their copy of Animal Crossing.
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