As the coronavirus pandemic escalates, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has a message for his employees: “This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty.”
“Across the world, people are feeling the economic effects of this crisis, and I’m sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better,” Bezos wrote in a memo posted to the Amazon site.
Amid this challenging time, Bezos noted, the work of Amazon employees is at “its most critical.”
The coronavirus crisis has caused a surge in demand for Amazon products. The company is preparing to hire 100,000 new delivery and warehouse workers to keep up and is spending $350 million to hike pay by $2 an hour for U.S. and Canadian employees through April 2. It is implementing similar pay raises internationally. In addition, the e-tailer has changed its logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing and third-party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering essential items, including cleaning and medical supplies as well as household staples and medical supplies.
As Amazon employees such as warehouse workers and delivery drivers are being asked to come into work as others are advised to stay home, the company has added a number of preventative health measures, including increasing the “frequency and intensity of cleaning” and “adjusting our practices in fulfillment centers to ensure the recommended social-distancing guidelines,” according to Bezos.
The entrepreneur noted that the company has also purchased millions of face masks that it hopes to give to employees who are still coming into work. However, due to the international shortage of N95 masks, medical workers are being prioritized, and few orders have been filled at this time.
While Amazon remains open for business, the e-commerce giant has worked through the members of its own ranks being diagnosed with the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. Last week, Amazon temporarily shut down a Queens, N.Y., warehouse after an employee tested positive for the virus; operations resumed after a deep cleaning took place and workers were paid for a full day. According to a report from Spanish news site La Información, Amazon declined to shutter two warehouses last week in Spain, near Madrid and Barcelona, despite employees at each testing positive for the virus.