GameStop Declares Itself 'Essential Retail' and Will Not Close -- Reportedly Even If Ordered to Do So

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 16: People pass a GameStop store in lower Manhattan on September 16, 2019 in New York City. GameStop has announced that they will be closing between 180 and 200 stores before the end of the fiscal year due to a drop in sales. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The video game retailer has reportedly sent a memo to employees ordering them to disobey local law enforcement in any state that tries to shut them down as a non-essential business.

It looks like fans excited for “Doom Eternal” and “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” will still be able to get them at GameStop when the hit store shelves on Friday, even if they’re in a state that has government orders to shut down non-essential businesses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The retail giant has reportedly gone so far as to tell employees in a memo to disobey any law enforcement that tries to shut them down in response to these new mandates, according to Vice, because GameStop has internally decided that they are an “essential retail and therefore is able to remain open during this time.”

Unfortunately, video game retailers are not on any of the approved lists for essential businesses, which include grocery stores, medical facilities and businesses that provide a necessary human service. But according to GameStop, that’s just what they’re doing as well.

In response to Vice’s original post, the company sent a statement to Vice defending their decision to stay open and defy local law enforcement — should it come to that — by explaining why they believe they are “essential.” And it has nothing to do with video games, which remains their primary business.

“We also offer a wide array of products and devices that are important to facilitate remote work, distance learning, and virtual connectivity,” the company said. “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.”

While acknowleding that there are businesses more essential than they are, they nevertheless believe they “can have a positive impact during this very challenging time.”

Vice reports that they spoke with five different GameStop employees who’d told them that the company told them to defy orders to close down and tell law enforcement that GameStop has concluded that they should be “classified as essential retail and therefore is able to remain open during this time.”

We’re not sure how them simply deciding they’re “essential retail” is enough for them to be able to stay open, because by that logic every nail salon and bookstore could make the same declaration.

At least they gave employees information to have law enforcement contact with their corporate offices, though we suspect many officers would just go ahead and close down the store anyway. They’ve got enough on their plate in most of these states.

GameStop has also come under criticism for reportedly failing to provide staff with adequate cleaning supplies, in some cases sending employees out in their local markets, and offering no extended sick leave options to employees.

On Thursday, the company did announce additional measures it would enact to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in an open letter, including a reduction in store hours, in the number of people allowed in their stores, and suspension of all in-store events and their trade-in program until further notice.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has more than 227,000 confirmed cases and killed more than 9,300 according to recent media reports as of March 19.

Though the outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus has spread to at least 150 other countries and territories. In the US, more than 9,500 Americans have contracted the virus and over 150 have died. However, medical experts and epidemiologists predict the numbers will rise.

To see more of our coverage on COVID-19, click here.

[via TooFab]

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