Ikea has temporarily closed half of its 30 stores in mainland China, including its outlet in the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, Wuhan – in order to protect its employees.
The Swedish furniture giant, which operates as Ikea Retail China or Ingka Group in China, has about 14,000 staff on mainland China.
“In response to the Chinese government's call for strict and effective disease control, Ikea Retain China will temporarily close around half of the stores in mainland China until further notice, effective from January 29th,” the company said in a statement to Yahoo Finance.
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“The decision has been made after careful assessment and consideration of the epidemic situation, and Ikea Retail China is proactively working with local authorities in the cities and regions where we operate.”
Staff and customers are encouraged to take up ‘preventive hygiene’ practices such as wearing masks, the statement said.
Ikea will continue to pay impacted staff during the enforced shut-down.
“The impacted Ikea co-workers are asked to stay at home until further notice with paid leave.
“We continue to closely monitor the situation and stay updated on information from local and global authorities, and act in accordance with their recommendations as this situation is evolving.”
Starbucks shuts more than half its Chinese stores
Ikea is far from only major global chain to shut its doors amid fears of the virus.
Starbucks has shut nearly half of its branches in China, which is its second-largest market after the US, according to the BBC.
The coffeehouse chain has closed 2,000 of its 4,300 stores across mainland China and has warned that the rapidly expanding infection will likely affect its financial performance.
Google, McDonalds, Disney shuts
Google has also temporarily closed its offices in mainland China as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The tech giant has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and five offices in Taiwan.
The offices were already closed for Lunar New Year, but a Google spokesperson told The Verge that the offices will extend the closure in accordance with government guidance.
Employees currently in China, or have immediate family members returning from the country, have been encouraged to return home as soon as possible or work from home for at least 14 days upon returning.
McDonalds has “suspended business” across five cities in the Hebei province, where Wuhan is located.
Several car manufacturers that have production sites around Wuhan have also called for their non-Chinese staff to leave the city, BBC reported.
French car maker PSA, which owns Peugeot and Citroen, said it will bring 38 French employees and their family out of Wuhan, while Japan’s Honda Motors will fly about 30 of its Japanese staff home. Nissan will evacuate Japanese staff and families from the city.
Prominent Chinese film studios have shut doors on tourist attractions, and Disney has closed its US$5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort, Forbes reported.
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