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2 Months : From Dec 2019 to Feb 2020
By Dave Sebastian, Heather Haddon and Alison Sider
U.S. businesses with operations in China are taking precautions amid China's coronavirus outbreak, closing restaurants in affected areas and offering free changes or refunds at resort destinations.
Walt Disney Co. said it would temporarily close its Disneyland and Disneytown parks in Shanghai starting Saturday, as the death toll from China's spreading coronavirus rose.
"We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and be in close contact with the local government," Shanghai Disney Resort, which operates the parks, said in a statement Friday.
McDonald's Corp. said it has closed stores in Wuhan, the central China city where the virus originated, and other surrounding cities that have suspended local public transportation due to the outbreak. McDonald's restaurants in Hubei province operated normally where transportation was available, a company spokesman said. He didn't say how many restaurants were shut.
"We will maintain close communication with local health and other relevant authorities," the spokesman said.
The outbreak comes amid the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, which is typically a busy travel period. The official death count related to the coronavirus is 26, with the number of infections rising to at least 881 confirmed cases.
The McDonald's spokesman said the company was providing hand sanitizer in restaurants, increasing disinfection of areas with frequent customer contact, requiring delivery drivers to wear masks and measuring temperatures of store crews upon arriving to work to monitor for fevers.
McDonald's had 2,902 stores in China during its last quarter, making it one of the company's largest foreign markets.
Disney said it would work to refund tickets bought to Disneyland, resort hotel rooms reserved, and tickets for Beauty and the Beast Mandarin production booked through Disney's official ticket-purchasing platform.
Delta Air Lines Inc. is allowing passengers to and from Beijing and Shanghai to change fights with no fee due to concerns about the coronavirus in China. Passengers traveling between Jan. 24 and Jan. 31 will be allowed to change their flights without penalty or cancel their trips and apply the value to a new ticket within a year.
American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. are offering refunds for canceled trips only for people traveling to, from or through the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began.
No U.S. carriers offer direct service to Wuhan but they offer connecting flights on partner airlines. Flights from the city have been halted.
Cruise lines such as Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said they aren't allowing anyone who lives in or recently passed through Wuhan to board their cruises.
Carnival's medical team is in touch with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization about recommended screenings for passengers, monitoring and ship protocols, the spokesman said. Those measures could include temperature and questionnaire screening for travelers entering cruises from China and other areas, as well as an illness and disease reporting protocol, he said.
Royal Caribbean will work with its guests on itinerary modifications, a spokesman said.
Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. said they are waiving cancellation fees through Feb. 8 for reservations at its hotels in China, and for guests from China traveling to those hotels in other countries.
"Our hotels are following the guidelines of local authorities and reinforcing recommended measures on appropriate hygiene standards," Marriott said in a statement.
Hyatt Hotels Corp. said it is letting guests who reserved rooms through Hyatt's official booking platforms between Jan. 23 and Feb. 10 in its hotels in the Greater China region to cancel without charge, a company spokesman said. The waiver also applies to guests from Greater China who have booked stays at Hyatt's properties in the Asia-Pacific region, including South Korea, Japan and several Southeast Asian countries, he said.
Marriott, with more than 350 properties across mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and Hilton with 225 properties in the region said it is tracking updates from the CDC, WHO and local health departments.
The Wuhan virus has spread to several other countries, including South Korea, Japan and the U.S. For some companies, the outbreak is having an immediate effect on business.
Honeywell International Inc. said it is seeing a surge in demand for protective face masks in China, as well as in Europe and the U.S. Honeywell said it is increasing production at multiple facilities around the world.
DuPont de Nemours Inc., which makes medical body suits and other protective gear, said it would donate equipment to agencies in China that are handling medical cases and would work to boost supply of its products to meet customer demand. DuPont said it is handing out protective masks to its employees in affected areas in China.
3M Co. said it would boost production of respirator masks as a result of the outbreak. The St. Paul, Minn., company said it has seen increased demand in China for its respiratory protection products.
In Macau, Wynn Resorts Ltd., MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands Corp. have ordered their casino-resort workers to wear protective masks. The companies are monitoring body temperatures of customers and staff, and have implemented increased hygiene and cleaning measures, according to the companies and analysts.
The Las Vegas-based casino giants derive as much as 70% of their revenue from Macau, the special administrative region of China near Hong Kong. Two people in Macau were found infected with the virus as of Friday, and both were in stable condition at a hospital, according to the Macau government. Ten people had close contact with those patients, but none have shown any symptoms of the virus, the government said.
The Macau government called off a New Year parade and other public events. Hotel cancellations are likely, though no widespread cancellations were apparent as of Friday, analysts said. More than 13 million protective face masks were delivered in the region.
"We are closely monitoring the viral pneumonia situation," said MGM spokesman Brian Ahern on Thursday. "We will proactively cooperate with the guidelines announced by the government and carry out respective measures to protect our guests and team members."
The Wuhan virus can be spread by coughing, kissing or making contact with saliva. Often, coronaviruses simply cause common colds, although this latest outbreak is far more serious.
In the U.S., the CDC said it has been investigating whether 63 patients from 22 states have been infected with the virus. Only two have tested positive so far, while 11 have tested negative.
Authorities in Singapore, a popular destination for Chinese tourists, have identified 28 suspected cases of the coronavirus; all but two of them had recently traveled to China. Thailand, another destination for Chinese tourists, has three confirmed cases.
--Austen Hufford contributed to this article.
Write to Dave Sebastian at firstname.lastname@example.org, Heather Haddon at email@example.com and Alison Sider at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 24, 2020 14:48 ET (19:48 GMT)
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