March 3, 2020 / 9:05 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Ford limiting company travel; two employees in China have coronavirus

(Adds details on travel policy, quotes)

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co told employees on Tuesday it is restricting all company travel to only essential operations through March 27 as it takes measures in response to the spread of the coronavirus.

The second largest U.S. automaker confirmed that two employees in China had been diagnosed with the coronavirus and are getting better.

Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett told employees the automaker was "restricting all business air travel, internationally and in-country. For now, this ban is in effect until March 27 and we will revisit the decision weekly."

The company will approve essential travel on a case-by-case basis that "can only be completed by physically being present" and does not pose "an unacceptable health hazard." Ford said "examples of exceptions might include plant, supplier and marketing readiness for product launches."

Hackett said Ford will place guidance from U.S. health officials at all facilities within the next 10 days.

"Remember to follow easy habits like washing your hands frequently, opting for hellos instead of handshakes, and using hand sanitizer when you are in a hurry," Hackett wrote.

Hackett urged employees to "look out on your calendar at least 90 days and find creative ways to complete work without traveling or having people needlessly come to us." (Reporting by David Shepardson and Ben Klayman; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

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