Earlier this month, video game retailer GameStop took a lot of criticism after it deemed itself an "essential" business that will remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-essential services and businesses across the country have temporarily closed due to coronavirus concerns, but GameStop is still operating. Previous reports indicated workers were unhappy with the situation, and now the experiences of some GameStop employees in Massachusetts have shown how badly it's being handled.
Speaking with Boston Globe, employees claimed that they were told to wrap plastic bags around their hands in the absence of gloves. GameStop is still operating with a click and collect style service, in which an employee passes orders through to customers at the door of the store. Additionally, employees are taking payment at the door for orders, raising further health concerns for workers.
"Lightly (you want to be able to get it off easily) tape a Game Stop plastic bag over your hand and arm. Do not open the door all the way—keep the glass between you and the guest’s face—just reach out your arm," instructions from one district manager read in an email to managers across the region. Understandably, one of the managers who spoke about the situation said it was "infuriating" he was still working at a video game store during a time of crisis.
"I have to make a choice between doing a job that nobody needs during a pandemic and not being paid, and possibly infecting people or being infected,” he continued. “We know for a fact the disease is contagious even when you’re asymptomatic." The state of Massachusetts does not consider GameStop to be an essential service, which means that GameStop and its employees face a $300 fine per violation. The district leader, however, claimed to the managers in the region that the store had permission from the state to remain open.
The reports of the situation at GameStop come just after CFO Jim Bell said during an earnings call that the company will close 320 stores this year. As Gamasutra reports, Bell said the closures "are a very specific and proactive part of our de-densification plan and they are not related to recent business trends."