Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) told employees on Tuesday that it is banning all non-essential air travel until at least March 27 because of concerns about the novel coronavirus.
Ford had been restricting travel to and from China but has now extended the ban to all flights, both international and within the United States, out of concern for employees’ health and safety.
There may be exceptions, a Ford spokesperson said, but they will probably be rare.
CEO Jim Hackett said in a letter to employees that Ford will have to “find creative ways to complete work” without travel until the impact of the virus recedes.
Exceptions to the travel ban will be limited to situations that are essential to Ford’s operations and that don’t create a health hazard, he said, possibly including preparations for upcoming new-product launches.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has played havoc with automakers’ supply lines, as assembly plants and parts factories in China and elsewhere have been shut down for weeks at a time.
Ford and other global automakers, including General Motors (NYSE:GM) and BMW (OTC:BMWYY) (OTC:BAMXF), have warned investors that the effects of the virus in China and elsewhere could impact earnings as the year unfolds.
New-car sales in China fell 80% in February as buyers stayed home, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).
Ford confirmed earlier reports that two of its associates in China were diagnosed with the coronavirus and quarantined. Both have since fully recovered.