After a French court ordered it to limit deliveries to essential goods, Amazon will have to close its warehouses in the country until at least early next week — or face a hefty penalty.
An internal document obtained by Reuters showed that the e-commerce giant informed French unions, who were scheduled to meet this afternoon, that it planned to shutter its six warehouses in France, which employ roughly 10,000 workers.
The decision followed a mandate by the Nanterre court (near Paris), which ordered Amazon to begin shipping only food, self-care and medical products within 24 hours. Failure to comply with the court order would require the company to pay a penalty of 1 million euros ($1.09 million) per day of delay.
By restricting Amazon’s deliveries, the court noted that officials would be able to better examine whether the online powerhouse is taking adequate safety precautions to protect its associates. Some unions had called for the total shutdown of the retailer’s activities in France, expressing worries over purported challenges in maintaining proper social distancing amid heightened product demand.
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Similar concerns over a purported lack of protections for employees have also been raised on Amazon’s home turf of the United States: In late March, 15 workers at the company’s Staten Island, N.Y., warehouse participated in a demonstration that sought to call out Amazon’s workplace conditions after an employee at the facility tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
In recent weeks, multiple reports have indicated that workers at dozens of Amazon warehouses and facilities had contracted COVID-19, which has sickened more than 2.02 million people around the world and killed at least 132,200. Amazon is classified as an essential retailer in the U.S., allowing it to continue operating its warehouses even in the states and localities that have implemented stay-at-home orders.
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