As Disease Spreads, These Companies Are Closing Shop In China

An increasing number of major companies are cutting operations and restricting travel amid concerns over the coronavirus


Topline: As the Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread—with more than 100 people dead and some 4,700 infected—an increasing number of major companies are responding to the situation in China by suspending some business operations, restricting travel and more.

  • McDonald’s and Disney were among the first companies to shutter businesses in China last week: Disney has shut down its Shanghai and Hong Kong theme parks, while McDonald’s said that it had “suspended business” across five cities in the Hubei Province (the center of the outbreak).
  • Starbucks quickly followed suit—it has now closed more than half of its 4,100 stores in mainland China.
  • Big retailers have also shut down stores with H&M closing 45 locations and suspending business travel to and from China for its employees, according to Reuters.
  • Other companies such as IKEA and Swatch have closed stores in Wuhan, while Japanese conglomerate Fast Retailing shuttered nearly 100 of its Uniqlo stores in the Hubei province.
  • Several hotels including Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton have also suspended some operations within Wuhan and the greater Hubei province.
  • Tour operators Carnival and Royal Carribean Cruises canceled several scheduled voyages, while casino operator MGM Resorts said it’s scaled back its Lunar New Year celebration at its Macao resort last weekend.

Tangent: Numerous large companies have also started to restrict employee travel to and from China. Tech giants like Facebook and Microsoft, for example, recently asked all of its employees to suspend non-essential travel to mainland China. Big banks, like Standard Chartered and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, also said employee trips to China should be avoided. Other companies banning travel to and from China include Japan’s Nippon Steel and South Korea’s LG Electronics. Large automakers, such as Fiat Chrysler, have also restricted travel to Wuhan as well as other Chinese cities. General Motors and Ford, while restricting business trips to Wuhan, have yet to suspend travel to other parts of China.

What to watch for: The Chinese government has locked down more than a dozen cities in an attempt to quarantine the coronavirus resulting in restricted travel for some 50 million people and complicated it for many others. A host of airlines, hotels, booking platforms and travel agencies are offering free cancellations and date changes for those who had earlier purchased trips to China.

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