As a global company, we’re closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19. In addition to those who are affected by the illness, many more are indirectly dealing with changes in their work, school, and community environments. Here are some of the ways Amazon is supporting employees, communities, and customers during this difficult time.

Serving our customers
We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one. As COVID-19 has spread, we've seen an increase in people shopping online. To serve our customers while also helping to ensure the safety of our associates, we’ve changed our logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third-party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering items that are a higher priority for our customers. This has resulted in some of our delivery promises being longer than usual.

While Amazon will continue taking orders and shipping items from across our store, customers ordering items they don’t need immediately have the opportunity to help others by selecting shipping options that enable us to consolidate orders and make fewer stops in neighbourhoods throughout the week, and most importantly, serve customers with the most critical needs first.

Our customers are counting on us like never before. At every level of our company, we’re working to provide the products and services that our customers and communities need as we face a global pandemic. This includes taking a number of important steps to keep prices fair and protect our customers from those looking to exploit the current crisis. Amazon has zero tolerance for price gouging and longstanding policies and systems to prevent this harmful practice. We’re working vigorously to combat price gouging.

To protect customers shopping in our physical retail stores, we’ve enhanced our daily cleaning procedures and are implementing additional nightly cleaning. We continue to educate employees on official guidance for maintaining healthy habits, and are offering flexibility for employees who need to stay home, plus paid time off for those who are diagnosed with the virus.

Whole Foods Market is temporarily adjusting store hours to accommodate those identified as among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, according to health authorities. Customers who are aged 70 and over in the UK, and 60 and over in the U.S. and Canada, are invited to shop beginning one hour before the store opens to the general public under the store’s new adjusted hours (for example: if a store’s new hours are 09:00 – 20:00, customers who are age 70 and over can shop starting at 08:00). We are setting aside this time to help these customers feel more comfortable shopping our stores and to help ensure they are able to get the items they need in a less crowded environment.

For Prime Now deliveries, we’ve made some changes to minimise contact between our delivery partners and customers. Once a driver knocks on the door or rings the doorbell, they will leave the order on the doorstep and then step back while they wait for customers to collect.

Empowering our customers
In addition to serving our retail customers, we’re making sure Amazon Web Services customers have the tools and support they need to keep their businesses and organisations moving forward safely and efficiently.

At AWS, one area where we have heard an urgent need is in the research and development of diagnostics, which consist of rapid, accurate detection and testing of COVID-19. Better diagnostics will help accelerate treatment and containment, and in time, shorten the course of this epidemic.

That’s why we are launching the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative—a global program to support customers in the US, Europe, and the rest of the world, who are working to bring better, more accurate, diagnostics solutions to market faster, and promote better collaboration across organizations that are working on similar problems. As part of this, we are committing an initial investment of $20 million to accelerate diagnostic research, innovation, and development to speed our collective understanding and detection of COVID-19 and other innovate diagnostic solutions to mitigate future infectious disease outbreaks. Read more.

AWS is collaborating with public health organisations, government agencies, and businesses around the globe to support their efforts resulting from the ripple effect of COVID-19. This includes providing customers in the most affected regions with technical support and AWS credits that help cover costs, while enabling organisations to quickly stand up and scale their tools and infrastructure to keep businesses running, and speed COVID-19 research projects. More details to be shared in coming days.

We are supporting Amazonians and others who are working from home with AWS services, including virtual desktops in the cloud, frustration-free online meetings with video, and secure content storage and collaboration. AWS also provides services for many healthcare and life sciences companies that are working on research, diagnosis, treatment, and vaccine study to accelerate our collective understanding of COVID-19.

Caring for our employees
In light of ongoing international COVID-19 developments, we now recommend that all global employees who work in a role that can be done from home, do so through the end of March. Every team is different and not all jobs are conducive to working from home.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Amazon and our network of partners are helping communities around the world in a way that very few can — delivering critical supplies directly to the doorsteps of people who need them. We want to recognize our employees who are playing an essential role for people at a time when many of the services that might normally be there to support them are closed. To recognise the contribution our employees in the UK are making, we will be adding an additional £2 per hour worked from now through to the end of April. This is on top of our current starting rate of £10.50 for the London area, and £9.50 for the rest of the UK.

We are opening 100,000 new full and part-time positions across the U.S. in our fulfilment centres and delivery network to meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service during this stressful time, particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public. We also know many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants, and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis. We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back.

All Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay. This additional pay while away from work is to ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost income. This is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March.

We are establishing the Amazon Relief Fund, with a $25 million initial contribution, focused on supporting our independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants, and seasonal employees under financial distress during this challenging time. We will be offering all of these groups the ability to apply for grants approximately equal to up to two weeks of pay if diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine. Going forward, this fund will support our employees and contractors around the world who face financial hardships from other qualifying events, such as a natural disaster, a federally declared emergency, or an unforeseen personal hardship. Applicants may apply and receive a personal grant from the fund ranging from $400 to $5,000 per person.

We paused our fulfilment centre public tours programme, cancelled large events, and changed the majority of our job interviews to virtual interviews rather than in-person interviews, which often require travel. At the same time, we increased our cleaning of all facilities globally, including regular sanitisation of all door handles, stairway handrails, lift buttons, lockers, and touch screens.

Supporting our community
We are joining a coalition of UK companies, universities, and research institutions to boost testing capacity for COVID-19. Our logistics network, along with Royal Mail, will deliver test kits to critical workers and diagnostic sites set up around the UK. National Health Service staff on the frontlines of the pandemic will be among the first to benefit from the increased testing capacity. Find out more here.

Also in the UK, Amazon has committed £3.2 million to support those who are most affected by the COVID-19 crisis, which includes a donation to the British Red Cross and a fund to support local organisations in communities where our employees live and work. Read more.

We will also provide free online STEM resources to students in lower-income communities to enable learning to continue during school closures, and we are working with our existing charity partner Magic Breakfast to ensure they can continue to provide free breakfast provision to children in disadvantaged areas.

In addition, we are continuing to pay all hourly staff who work for the service providers that support our offices here and around the world—from food-service workers to security guards to janitorial staff.

We’ve also reached out to, and are helping, our communities around the globe. In China, for example, we leveraged our fulfilment network to donate millions of items—such as medical isolation suits, protective masks, disposable gloves, and other medical supplies—to healthcare professionals in affected cities. We'll share more updates in days to come.

You can get the latest information about Amazon’s response to COVID-19 by bookmarking this page, and by following @AmazonNewsUK on Twitter.