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Amazon faces warehouse shutdown in France

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A French court has ordered Amazon to stop selling non-essential goods in the country as the company faces criticism over the risk of infection spreading in its warehouses.

A court in Nanterre, near Paris, ruled that Amazon would have to limit the activity of its six warehouses in the country to only ship essential categories such as food, hygiene and medical items.

The ecommerce giant has 24 hours to comply and could be fined €1 million per day if it fails to do so.

The case had been brought by trade union Solidaires and the Friends of the Earth association.

In an emailed statement, Amazon France said it planned to appeal the decision but that it may be forced to suspend activities in its distribution centres in the country.

The company said it was “perplexed” by the ruling, claiming it already had strong security measures in place to protect employees, which it said had been approved by health and safety experts. It claims these include temperature controls, available masks and enhanced social distancing measures.

“Currently, we continue to operate in the country and do our best to maintain the level of service expected by our customers in France, the jobs on which our employees count and the visibility including the thousands of French companies that sell on need in this unprecedented period.

“However, without the possibility of operating our distribution centers in France, we would be forced to restrict a service which has become essential for the millions of people across the country who wish to have access to the products they need at home during this crisis.”

Amazon has this week announced plans to hire 75,000 workers across the US, primarily in warehouses. Amazon also said this week that it would be expanding the categories of products it would ship for partners to those considered non-essential.

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