Though many parts of the US have now recommended the closure of all non-essential businesses to limit the spread of COVID-19, Arkansas-based games retailer Game X Change is keeping its stores open for now.
Speaking to Kotaku, multiple anonymous Game X Change employees reported store leadership had failed to provide them with adequate cleaning and sanitation supplies for their stores, and furthermore had sent around a list of health and safety recommendations to stores on Tuesday that included, among proven strategies such as handwashing, a number of unsubstantiated claims.
These included recommending gargling a mix of vinegar and warm water, hanging clothes in the sunlight to dry, and avoiding consuming cold foods or drinks as methods to kill coronavirus. The ability to hold one's breath for ten seconds was also suggested as a way to determine one was not infected.
All of these claims have been debunked by either individual medical professionals or the World Health Organization as a whole.
One employee reported sending an anonymous email to Game X Change owner Grant Wetherill asking for further action to be taken to protect employees and customers.
Wetherill responded by focusing on the anonymity of the employee, with a portion reading as follows:
"I can't do anything to address your concerns if I don't know who I'm talking with. I can tell whoever you are that I spend lots of time in my stores. Even though I have Parkinson's disease and asthma. Plus I'm 56-years-old. So don't lecture me on risk. I'm here if you want to be an adult and talk to me."
In another Kotaku report last week, one anonymous employee said that stores were remaining open even in places where shelter-in-place orders had been enacted, and the stores were at the time still accepting trade-ins.
Game X Change's decisions are reminiscent of those made by its far larger US competitor GameStop two weeks ago, when the retailer referred to itself as an "essential service" to avoid store closures.
However, as of last week, all GameStop stores have closed except for curbside pick-up.