GameStop will require all customers to wear face masks in its United States locations starting on July 27, the company announced via press release today.
“We believe this is the right thing to do to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our associates and customers from the growing spread of COVID-19,” said GameStop CEO George Sherman in the statement. “Providing a safe environment in our stores for all customers and store associates continues to be our top priority and wearing a face covering is a simple step every one of us can take to ensure the safety of others in our stores.”
The struggling video game retailer previously made headlines when its workers found themselves unprepared to deal with what was then a burgeoning pandemic. Back in March, several GameStop employees spoke to Kotaku about these issues, detailing situations where they were left without adequate sanitation supplies and forced to remain open even as local governments called for the shutting down of non-essential businesses. GameStop would eventually cancel midnight launches and close down stores, only to reopen several locations in April.
Update (07/17/2020, 4:41 p.m. ET): According to GameStop employees, they will not be allowed to refuse service to customers that aren’t wearing masks, nor will they be able to ask them to leave the store. In a memo sent to stores today and acquired by Kotaku, employees are instead asked to follow several steps, including offering the customer a complimentary mask and suggesting alternate methods of shopping.
“If a customer refuses to wear a mask/face covering or is attempting to escalate the situation, calmly ask the customer what you can assist them with and complete their transaction as quickly as possible,” the internal memo reads.
Update (07/17/2020, 5:28 p.m. ET): A representative for GameStop told Kotaku that these internal guidelines were meant to protect their employees in the wake of several incidents in which retail workers were attacked and even killed after asking customers to wear a face mask.
With this, GameStop joins Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Starbucks in the growing list of businesses requiring customers wear masks, both for their own safety and the safety of others.
While many countries have fought back the covid-19 pandemic with government assistance and common-sense public health considerations, the number of confirmed cases and deaths in the United States continues to rise. States have been slow to enact mask requirements, with some politicians even pushing back on the idea despite all indications that masks are vital to stopping the spread of the virus.