The decision comes after a second Philip Morris USA employee tested positive for COVID-19. The suspension is expected to last for 2 weeks, although the company will continue to monitor the situation. Business continuity plans have already been implemented and Philip Morris estimates that there is enough finished inventory to cover the next 2 months, based on current shipping volumes.
According to the press release, some Middleton domestic operations have also been placed on hold for two weeks, due to COVID-19 related supply chain restrictions. Middleton estimates that it currently has enough finished cigar inventory for around 3 months, based on estimated shipping volumes.
Billy Gifford, Altria’s Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer, commented on the suspensions, stating, “We are committed to protecting the safety and well-being of our employees, contractors, their families and the communities where we operate. We take the threat of COVID-19 very seriously and have been actively implementing plans to minimize business disruptions and their potential impact to our employees, consumers and customers.”
Philip Morris USA and Middleton employees will still receive their regular base wages during the 2 week suspension and the two companies will evaluate providing additional pay continuation beyond that time frame as needed. Altria will continue to follow updates from public health authorities and implement travel restrictions, remote working and social distancing.