Global business in headwinds as China quarantines millions

The Coronavirus outbreak is affecting businesses at the same pace as it is affecting humans. As containment of the virus remains a threat, global businesses in China are resorting to either closing stores or scaling down operations.  

The origin of the virus is yet to be determined while Chinese authorities remain tight-lipped about it. The virus has grasped well over 7,000 in China and the global count is over 30,000 people. The global supply chain is disrupted as airlines are suspending flights and container ships are being stopped and checked, as China increases restrictions.

WSJ in a report on employee travel bans quoted Kraft Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen: “This will help reduce the unnecessary risk of virus exposure or transmission and is the most prudent measure to take while we continue to closely monitor the situation in China,”

Among other companies choosing to opt for similar measures are- JP Morgan Chase &Co. and Ford Motors. Earlier, Google shut down its offices in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan complying with the directives of the local government.

Electric mobility pioneer Tesla is too not unscathed as the restrictions could affect the production pace in Shanghai. Tesla’s young CFO Zach Kirkhorn told investors that the 1.5-week shutdown would only “slightly” impact the company’s profitability in the first quarter of 2020.

Major fast-food chains including Starbucks and McDonalds have closed thousands of stores in China—its second-largest market—and warned the move would weigh on financial results. Yum China Holdings, operator of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell stores in China also have closed stores, as have the parent company of retailer H&M and the Ingka Group, which operates IKEA stores.

Boeing Co. said it sees the Coronavirus as a potential drag on air-travel demand.

“The impact of the coronavirus on near-term traffic growth is clearly a watch item this year.”

Greg Smith, Boeing finance chief

British Airways and Indonesia’s Lion Air announced that they would halt all flights to mainland China, and American Airlines said it would suspend flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Beijing, citing a significant decline in demand for travel.

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