DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. told employees Tuesday it's banning all nonessential domestic and international air travel at least until March 27 as cases of the coronavirus spread around the world.
Ford also confirmed two employees in China have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and are getting better, Reuters reported.
The automaker has been prohibiting travel to and from China but is extending the ban to all flights within the U.S. and internationally. A spokesman, citing the health and safety of Ford's employees, said there may be some exceptions, but they'd likely be rare.
The spokesman said the company will reevaluate the date of the ban on a weekly basis and could extend it if necessary.
CNBC first reported the new travel restrictions.
Meanwhile, the UAW’s International Executive Board on Tuesday voted to implement an air travel ban on domestic and international flights.
“This is a precautionary action not meant to elicit concern, but to help in dealing with the spread of this epidemic,” Rory L. Gamble, President of the UAW, said in a statement. “Road travel will be permitted, and we will provide all personnel education on best practices when on the road or in the workplace.”
The union did not give a timeframe on the ban, but noted the IEB will review and monitor the policy as the epidemic subsides.
General Motors on Tuesday said it has no restrictions on domestic travel for employees, but the automaker banned employees from traveling to China, Japan, South Korea and Italy last week. Senior leaders must approve all other international travel, a spokesman said.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it implemented a restriction on non-essential travel last week.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett, in a letter to employees, said the company has to be "agile and responsive in our decisions" to deal with the virus.
"It takes a mix of tremendous patience, courage and ultimately resilience to address how we are going about our daily lives," Hackett wrote. "We have moved now to discussing the virus impact on our travel, launch plans and other aspects of our business lives that depend on us being able to move around."
Exceptions to the travel ban, he said, will be limited to instances that are essential to Ford’s operations, can only be completed when physically present and doesn’t create an unacceptable health hazard. He said those instances could include plant, supplier and marketing readiness for product launches.
Hackett said Ford will consider adding “extra protection” for those who are asked to travel on exception, and those people could opt-out if they’re not comfortable.
Hackett asked employees to look out 90 days and "find creative ways to complete work without traveling or having people needlessly come to us."
He also said that, within the next 10 days, Ford will post signs with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to follow habits such as "opting for hellos instead of handshakes," washing their hands and using sanitizer.
The COVID-19 outbreak has halted production for automakers and suppliers around the globe and is threatening to eat into 2020 profits. The Geneva auto show was canceled last week, although organizers of the New York auto show said Tuesday the April event is still on.
Separately on Tuesday, KAR Auction Services Inc. said it had suspended all employee air travel through March 31, citing the health and well-being of its employees.
Hannah Lutz and Reuters contributed to this report.