Amazon has ordered the temporary closure of all six of its French distribution centres, one day after a French court ruled it was not doing enough to protect its workers in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The online giant said in a statement that “this week, we are requesting employees of our distribution centres 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’s French warehouses are to be shut down for five days from Thursday to carry out a deep clean and to “take all the necessary measures to guarantee the health and safety of staff”, the company said.
Management said the 10,000 full- and part-time staff would continue to be paid.
Amazon France also said it is appealing against 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.
However, Amazon France said that given the “inherent complexity” of its activities, and the potential €1m ($1.1m) fine for each violation of the ruling, the risk was “too high”.
Earlier on Wednesday, the company had stressed the importance of its services to the “thousands of French companies that sell on Amazon” and “millions of people around the country who want to have access to products they need during the crisis”.
Amazon insisted that it is providing adequate security measures for staff, noting the implementation of temperature checks and mask distribution.
The company claimed it had sent more than 127,000 packets of disinfectant wipes and 27,000 litres of sanitising gel, as well as 1.5m masks, to the distribution centres.
But 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.
Customers who order from third party companies who use the Amazon website but send items directly will still receive their goods.