Amazon Requests Employees to Halt Nonessential Travel Over Coronavirus

By Victor Westerkamp

E-commerce giant Amazon asked personnel on Friday to refrain from all nonessential domestic and international travel in an attempt to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, according to Business Insider.

The request came on Friday via an internal email from the company’s retail operations manager and senior vice president of worldwide operations, Dave Clark, The New York Times reported.

The email did not elaborate on what travel it considered nonessential, nor did it state any disciplinary measures for those who ignored the notice.

The advice is valid at least through April when the company expects to have a clearer view of the impacts of the virus, it said.

Passengers-wear-face-masks-against-coronavirus
Passengers wear face masks to protect against the spread of the Coronavirus as they arrive on a flight from Asia, at the Los Angeles International Airport, Calif., on Feb. 1, 2020. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

A total of 798,000 people worked full and part time for the Seattle-based e-commerce company globally as of Dec. 31, 2019.

In January, Amazon had issued a similar internal memo, in which it announced taking steps to shield its workforce from exposure to the virus, asking its employees to defer all flights to China.

Globally, around 86,000 have been infected and nearly 3,000 people have died, most of which have occurred in China, where the disease was first discovered. China’s Hebei province is the virus’s hotspot.

Amazon employees who recently returned from high-risk areas were asked to stay at home for two weeks before returning to their offices and seek medical help in case of coronavirus-like symptoms such as fever, coughing, or other respiratory issues.

According to The New York Times, Amazon is also currently stockpiling several strategic commodities that are produced in China to prevent supply chains from drying up and to prevent sellers from ratcheting up prices that would be in high demand, like face masks.

Several other multinationals have recently stepped up their safety protocols.

Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple
Apps for Google (top L), Amazon (top C), Facebook (top R), and Apple (bottom C) are displayed on a tablet on Aug. 28, 2019. (Denis Charlet/AFP via Getty Images)

Google has barred its workers from flying to China or northern Italy, and similar bans on flying to Korea and Japan will follow on March 2.

JetBlue is currently offering waivers for all travel and will suspend change and cancellation fees for new flight bookings between Feb. 27 and March 11.

Workday and Facebook canceled important conferences in March and May respectively.

Apple warned investors that its supply of iPhones would be severely impacted by the virus, in part because most of them are produced in China. China also makes up a significant portion of its clientele.

Microsoft issued a similar warning to tablet and laptop users, indicating that the supply may soon stop after major production lines were halted and distribution channels are getting stranded.

The virus could impact global supply chains and interdependent national economies worldwide with U.S. stocks that suffered the most dramatic collapse this past week since the great depression of 1929.