Retail chain GameStop has told its US stores to stay open regardless of city or state shutdowns to protect against the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
That’s according to a company memo obtained by Kotaku, which reportedly instructs employees that GameStop stores are “essential retail” similar to groceries and pharmacies and should therefore be exempt from enforced closures.
“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,” the retailer reportedly said in a memo sent to staff.
The letter allegedly goes on to state that should police attempt to enforce closure of a GameStop store, then managers are approved to provide a document which encourages them to call GameStop’s corporate headquarters.
GameStop has been criticised by employees and the media for its failure to react to the COVID-19 crisis.
However, in a statement sent to Polygon on Thursday the retailer outlined a number of measures it had put in place to combat the virus.
These include suspending trade-ins, limiting the number of customers allowed in each store to ten, reducing hours to 12 – 8, disabling all in-store game stations, and cancelling all events and midnight launches.
Additionally, it said it had implemented heightened cleaning practices on all high-touchpoint surfaces within stores.
GameStop said in a statement: “Like many businesses, we are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic closely and adjusting our business practices to align with CDC recommended guidelines, while satisfying our gamers demand for the product they want in a manner that protects both our customers and our associates.”
Update: GameStop claimed in a follow-up statement: “While GameStop is best known as a provider of gaming and home entertainment systems, we also offer a wide array of products and devices that are important to facilitate remote work, distance learning, and virtual connectivity.
“As millions of Americans face unprecedented challenges adapting to virtual learning, working and interaction, there is significant need for technology solutions and we are one of many providers of these products that are remaining open at this time.
“Schools, businesses and families are now suddenly dependent on being able to connect through technology. While there are many businesses and organizations far more critical than ours, we believe we can have a positive impact during this very challenging time.
“The health and safety of our employees and customers is of utmost importance and we have and will continue to take extensive precautions consistent with CDC guidelines. We are complying with all state, county, city and local ordinances and we will continue to adjust to any future developments.”