Ikea closes all U.S. and Canadian stores to combat coronavirus and maintain social distancing

Ikea will close all 50 of its U.S. stores and its approximately 15 in Canada indefinitely as the coronavirus scenario unfolds, the furniture retailing giant announced Wednesday.

“Today, IKEA Retail U.S. will temporarily close all 50 store locations across the U.S. and the IKEA Planning Studio in Manhattan,” the company said in a statement. “This decision was taken by IKEA leadership as a pre-cautionary measure due to the rapidly evolving novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

In a separate statement, Ikea announced the same measure for Canada.

“As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve day-to-day, our top priority during these challenging times continues to be health and safety,” Ikea said. “Our communities are working hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to support these efforts, we will temporarily close all stores to customers until further notice to support social distancing efforts and based on recommendations from local health authorities.”

Online shopping will still be available in both countries, the company said, with extra safeguards in place to keep employees at a social distance and their workplaces sanitized.

The North American closures follow those in other countries that are taking a heavy hit from coronavirus, including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland, the statement noted.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures,” said Javier Quiñones, Ikea Retail U.S. president.

Ikea on Monday had already given customers a heads-up that it would close or reduce hours in the U.S. as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also closing its Småland play areas, restaurants and bistros and canceling in-store events and workshops.

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The company vowed to protect its employees too, 18,000 in the U.S. and 7,300 in Canada.

“Ikea will continue to support co-workers through its comprehensive benefits package and paid leave policy,” the retailer said. “All non-essential co-worker travel and large group meetings have been canceled. IKEA will assess all measures on a regular basis.”

In its Canada statement, Ikea said it would offer other types of support as well.

On the upside, an end is in sight, and “indefinitely” does not mean “forever.” Ikea was looking to reopen its shuttered stores in China as the crisis there abates, and according to Reuters, all have reopened except the one in Wuhan, where the crisis started.

“We look forward to welcoming customers back to our store locations soon, and we thank you for your understanding during these extraordinary circumstances,” Ikea said.

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