Coronavirus

Coronavirus Update: Italy Closes Most Retailers; CME Group Closes Trading Floor; Amazon Establishes Relief Fund

CORONAVIRUS

Under siege by the coronavirus, the Italian government has ordered the closures of all retailers barring pharmacies and grocers, according to published reports Wednesday (March 11).

The move is a further expansion of the government's attempts to contain the deadly virus.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the Financial Times that all retailers including cafes and restaurants that were non-essential would have to be closed while the virus outbreak continues. Other businesses including factories, banks and post offices as well as the public sector and transportation services would remain open.

Meanwhile, in the United States, CME Group will close its Chicago trading floor in a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19.

The world's largest futures exchange said it hadn't had any reported cases of coronavirus yet, at either the trading floor or in the Chicago Board of Trade building, but didn't want to take any chances. The floor would be closed as a precaution in line with advice from medical professionals, the group said per published reports.

Globex, the CME's primary electronic marketplace, will continue to trade. CME said the reopening of the trade floor would be contingent on future advice from medical professionals as more information on the virus becomes available.

Amazon said it had established a $25 million relief fund for contract workers facing financial distress. The eCommerce giant said on its blog that independent contractors could apply for a grant that would constitute "up to two weeks of pay." Amazon expects the grants to range from $400 to $5,000.

Workers could only qualify, however, if diagnosed with the virus or placed into quarantine by the government or Amazon itself.

Workers' rights groups previously complained that this means that workers still have to go to work even if they feel sick but have not been tested by a doctor.

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