Amazon stops taking orders for some non-essentials in France and Italy

It wants to keep vital shipments going during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon is taking dramatic steps to prioritize orders in areas hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The online retailer told Reuters in a statement that it would temporarily stop taking orders for "some non-essential products" in France and Italy to help Amazon warehouses focus on more vital deliveries. The company didn't say just what it was stopping, but it believes essentials include groceries, health products, household items, personal care, industrial goods, scientific products and pet supplies.

The move reflected a spike in demand from people staying at home, according to Amazon. It also reflected a need to respect anti-coronavirus safety precautions, the company said. The restrictions only affect sales fulfilled through Amazon. You can still buy non-essentials through Amazon in France and Italy if they're fulfilled through third parties.

This is an escalation for Amazon, which just days earlier restricted supply deliveries to its US and European warehouses. Now, the company is outright limiting customers' options. Not that it necessarily had much choice. Coronavirus infection rates have been disproportionately high in France and Italy, prompting effective lockdowns. If Amazon and other online retailers can't cope with the volume of orders, daily life in affected countries could suffer.