By Jeffrey Dastin
(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc said all employees should defer non-essential travel including within the United States, in a significant escalation by the world’s largest online retailer to guard against the spread of the coronavirus among its ranks.
Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, notified employees of the change on Thursday, which Amazon confirmed to Reuters. It is one of the latest companies to clamp down on travel because of the outbreak, which has caused at least 2,797 deaths globally. Facebook Inc also said it would cancel its annual developer conference in May because of the virus.
Wall Street has plunged on fears of a pandemic. New reported infections around the world now exceed those from mainland China, where the flu-like disease arose two months ago.
Amazon’s decision affects one of the largest U.S. workforces. As of Dec. 31, the company employed 798,000 full and part-time workers globally.
Previously it had said it was putting travel restrictions to China in place. With this broader halt of employee work trips, it was not immediately clear how the company distinguished essential from non-essential travel.
Editing by Peter Henderson and Nick Zieminski.