GameStop is instructing employees to violate the law and remain open amidst curfews and shutdowns enforced as a result of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The bizarre flouting of emergency laws geared toward combating the fast-snowballing public health crisis comes at a time when many states and municipalities are urging residents to remain more or less isolated in an effort to tamp down the spread, transmission and infection rates of the deadly virus and disease.
“They’ve essentially said to disobey law enforcement in any state that shuts down non essential retail,” an employee told Vice News on condition of anonymity—likely fearing reprisal from the infamously punitive and labor rights violating retail giant.
GameStop is demanding that employees argue with law enforcement efforts to shut them down via quarantine, containment or curfew.
The directions came via a flyer which reads:
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. We have received reports of local authorities visiting stores in an attempt to enforce closure despite our classification. Store managers are approved to provide the document linked below to law enforcement as needed.
“Thank you for what you are doing to keep us all safe. If you have questions about our store’s hours, operations or policies could I ask you to please call our corporate office,” the document notes before providing a number directly to a “COVID-19”-specific hotline. “Thank you for understanding.”
According to reporter Patrick Klepek: “The note does not appear to be instructed at one particular region of the country; the employees VICE Games spoke with were from all over, including the midwest and east coast.”
America’s largest brick-and-mortar video game retailer is not only instructing its workers to violate the law and risk arrest, the directions in the distributed flyer are also jeopardizing those employees’ health and lives—all for the sake of company profits.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have now advised that gatherings of 10 or more people be nixed—as has the White House—due to the aggressiveness, extremely contagious nature and lethality of the Coronavirus.
Meanwhile, other retailers have taken a more responsible—petition-like and legal—approach to keeping some stores’ locations open.
“[T]here remains a need for clear national guidance to resolve questions caused by a number of conflicting state and local orders that are triggering consumer, worker and business confusion, leading to cascading negative impacts on communities across the country,” National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay wrote in a recent open letter to the White House.
“When state and local governments give blanket orders to ‘close non-essential retail’ and ‘limit mass gatherings to 50 people,’ it causes panic and alarm. Consumers then swarm retailers, which exhausts existing supplies and overwhelms employees,” Shay continued—pleading with an actual definition of what qualifies as “essential.”
Law&Crime reached out to GameStop for comment and clarification on this story but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
[image via Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]