Coronavirus: Jeff Bezos tours Amazon warehouse amid backlash over safety

‘We’re all incredibly proud of the thousands of our colleagues working on the front lines’

James Crump
Thursday 09 April 2020 18:54 BST
Jeff Bezos tours Amazon fulfillment centre

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos visited an Amazon warehouse to say thank you to his staff working amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Bezos visited a warehouse and a Whole Foods store, whose parent company is Amazon, to say thanks to the staff.

Amazon posted a video to their Twitter, showing mr Bezos visiting the centres that are located in Dallas, Texas, according to Business Insider.

“Today’s visits by our founder and CEO @JeffBezos to say thank you to Amazon fulfillment center and @WholeFoods employees. We’re all incredibly proud of the thousands of our colleagues working on the front lines to get critical goods to people everywhere during this crisis,” their tweet read.

In the video, the CEO talked to employees and told one worker: “I can’t shake your hand. It’s a hard habit to break.”

He wore a face mask throughout the video and Mr Bezos was filmed having his temperature checked as he entered the Amazon fulfilment centre.

During the clip, he complimented a shopper’s mask in the Whole Foods store, but did not appear to follow the CDC guidelines on social distancing throughout.

Jeff Bezos in an Amazon fulfilment centre
Jeff Bezos in an Amazon fulfilment centre ((Amazon, Twitter))

The company has been criticised in recent weeks for their treatment of workers, amid the pandemic.

Amazon has been deemed an essential company, but The New York Times report that 50 of their 75 fulfilment centres in the US have had employees test positive for Covid-19.

In late March, Whole Foods employees called in sick in a co-ordinated strike as they demanded paid leave and improved worker conditions.

Twitter account Whole Worker, a group attempting to unionise the store and improve conditions, tweeted at the time that the company was not doing enough for workers during the crisis.

Jeff Bezos in a Whole Foods store
Jeff Bezos in a Whole Foods store ((Amazon, Twitter))

“Amazon and its subsidiary Whole Foods dared to keep open an Amazon warehouse and two Whole Foods stores where employees tested positive for COVID-19. We must prioritise the health of our workers over short-term financial gain,” their tweet read.

A spokesperson for Whole Foods told The Independent that the store is reviewing its policies on a frequent basis.

“Team Members in our stores and facilities also have access to up to two weeks of paid time off if they test positive for COVID or are quarantined and get increased overtime pay,” they said. They have also increased their hourly pay rate, the spokesperson said.

“Whole Foods Market’s longstanding open door policy encourages direct dialogue between Team Members and leadership, feedback which continues to shape the decisions we are making every day.”

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, upwards of 432,579 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached at least 14,830.

The Independent have reached out to Amazon for comment.

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