Even e-tail behemoth Amazon is feeling the bite of the coronavirus-induced panic that’s spreading across the world in tandem with the virus itself.
In a blog post shared Friday and updated throughout the weekend, the Seattle-based retailer wrote that it was not only experiencing delays in its Prime delivery service, but it is also running out of household staples, including hand sanitizer and toilet paper, COVID-19 spreads.
“In particular, you will notice that we are currently out of stock on some popular brands and items, especially in household staples categories. You will also notice that some of our delivery promises are longer than usual,” read a post on Day One, Amazon’s official blog. “We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on all of our products and bring on additional capacity to deliver all of your orders.”
Many customers have turned to e-commerce instead of shopping in stores since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the illness is known to spread through human-to-human contact. The e-tail company added in its post that it has seen an increase in the number of shoppers making purchases online; Prime Now, Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery members have the option of selecting “unattended delivery” upon checkout to avoid contact with others.
Amazon also said it was “working to ensure that no one artificially raises prices” on basic necessities during the pandemic and has already “blocked or removed tens of thousands of items” that violate its selling policies.
Along with the announcement, Amazon recommended that all global employees who work in a role that can be done from home do so until the end of March. It said that it also offered flexible scheduling options for employees staying home, as well as paid time off for those diagnosed with the coronavirus, which has infected more than 3,800 people and killed at least 68 in the United States.
What’s more, the company said it was establishing the Amazon Relief Fund with a $25 million initial contribution to help support its delivery partners and their drivers, among other employees who are struggling financially amid the outbreak. (Each applicant can receive from $400 to $5,000.)
“Going forward, this fund will support our employees and contractors around the world who face financial hardships from other qualifying events, such as a natural disaster, a federally declared emergency or an unforeseen personal hardship,” Amazon added.
It also shared the launch of a $5 million grant for small businesses: The Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund would provide cash to Seattle-area smaller companies that are experiencing economic challenges related to COVID-19. To qualify, companies must have fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenues.
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