Amazon Puts a Halt to Its Operations in France

After a French court blocked company from selling, shipping non-essential items
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 15, 2020 9:30 AM CDT
Updated Apr 15, 2020 2:51 PM CDT
France to Amazon: No Selling, Shipping Non-Essential Items
In this April 9, 2020 file photo, employees observe social distancing due to coronavirus, at the entrance of Amazon, in Douai, northern France.   (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, File)

Amazon said Wednesday it will "temporarily" suspend all activity in France, one day after a French court ruled it wasn't doing enough to protect its workers in the country amid the pandemic. The online giant, which has six warehouses in France, said in a statement that "this week, we are requesting employees of our distribution centers to stay at home. (In) the longer term, we will evaluate the impact of that (court) decision for them and our French logistic network." Amazon France also said it is appealing Tuesday’s emergency ruling, which requires the company to stop selling non-essential goods for a month while it works out new worker safety measures. Sales of food, medicine, and hygiene supplies are still allowed under the ruling, but Amazon France said that given the "inherent complexity" of its activities and the potential $1.1 million fine for each violation of the ruling, the risk was "too high."

Amazon insisted that it is providing adequate security measures for staff, noting the implementation of temperature checks and mask distribution. But the AP reports the court found Amazon didn’t do enough to enforce social distancing, to ensure that turnstiles and locker rooms were virus-free, or to increase cleaning of its warehouses. Unions say one worker infected with the virus is in intensive care. In the US, meanwhile, a move in the opposite direction: The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported Amazon's warehouses here would this week begin accepting shipments of non-essential items from its third-party sellers, though there will be some limits in place to make sure enough room for essential goods is maintained.

(More Amazon stories.)

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