As the highly contagious coronavirus has swept across the United States—West Virginia announced Tuesday that it has its first patient—and social distancing is increasingly recommended, more people are ordering food and cleaning supplies online.
And that's causing a problem for Amazon. The internet-based retail behemoth said Tuesday that it had run out of household staples and medical supplies. As a result, it is not allowing vendors that use Fulfillment by Amazon to send other products to the company's warehouses. They can't even schedule a shipment through the company's vendor site.
The prohibition is in effect through April 5, for now, and it applies in the United States and the European Union. If a product is in stock at Amazon, orders for it will be fulfilled, and shipments that were on their way before Tuesday will be accepted, the company said.
Those sellers who use Amazon as a portal, but fill and ship their own orders, will not see any changes because of this new policy.
The same restrictions apply to vendors who wholesale their products to Amazon, who then resells them at a markup.
The new policy does not affect shipments to consumers.
The policy change is not Amazon's only response to the surge in demand. The company announced Monday that it plans to hire about 100,000 new employees raise wages to $17 per hour from $15.
“We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year,” Amazon's senior vice president of operations, Dave Clark, wrote in a memo obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
What isn't clear, however, is if Amazon will continue charging sellers $40 per month for their professional accounts while their products won't be sold. Amazon did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
Amazon also hasn't said if it will postpone loan payments for sellers in its Amazon Lending program. That's a revolving credit account based on sales data.