Amazon tells employees to pause nonessential travel in U.S. due to coronavirus

Key Points
  • Amazon has started restricting all nonessential employee travel in the U.S. as the coronavirus continues to spread, a company spokesperson told CNBC.
  • In January, the company restricted employee travel to China "until further notice."
Nikol Szymul staffs a reception desk at Amazon offices discretely tucked into a building called Fiona in downtown Seattle, Washington on May 11, 2017.
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Amazon has started restricting all nonessential employee travel in the U.S. as the coronavirus continues to spread, a spokesperson confirmed to CNBC.

"We're asking employees to defer nonessential travel during this time," the spokesperson said.

Amazon sent the notification to employees on Friday. In a separate internal communication, Dave Clark, who runs Amazon's retail operations, told employees to hold off on planning group or team meetings that require travel until at least the end of April, when he estimated that the company will have a better sense of the virus, its spread and its impact.

In January, Amazon said it was restricting employee travel to China "until further notice" amid the coronavirus outbreak. The company also recommended that employees who are expected to travel back from one of the affected provinces of China work from home for two weeks. Amazon urged employees who experienced any symptoms to seek medical attention before returning to the office.

Amazon had 798,000 full-time and part-time employees as of Dec. 31, 2019.

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The coronavirus, which is thought to have originated in China's Hubei province, has continued to spread. At least 2,859 people have died from the disease, while more than 83,700 total cases have been confirmed. The majority of confirmed cases are in China, but the disease has spread rapidly over the past week through South Korea, Iran and Italy.

Several major tech companies have also curtailed employee travel or canceled conferences scheduled for the coming months as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Facebook on Thursday announced it would cancel its annual F8 software developer conference, while Workday canceled its internal sales conference that was slated to kick off next week.

Companies have also warned or adjusted their guidance due to the coronavirus. Apple last week warned investors it did not expect to meet its quarterly revenue forecast due to lower iPhone supply and lower Chinese demand as a result of the outbreak. Microsoft on Wednesday said it did not expect to meet the quarterly revenue guidance it had previously given due to the virus. Amazon has not adjusted its outlook in response to the coronavirus.

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