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Royal Caribbean sheds 26% of U.S. workforce as coronavirus hits travel

FILE PHOTO: A Royal Caribbean International cruise ship is seen at Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that international cruise ships would no longer be allowed to dock at Australian ports due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sydney, Australia, March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

(Reuters) - Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd RCL.N said on Wednesday it would lay off or furlough about 26% of its workforce in the United States, affecting nearly 1,300 of its more than 5,000 employees in the country, as the coronavirus chokes international travel.

The news comes as the fast-spreading pandemic led to the extension of the “no sail order” for all cruise ships by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as it looks to curb the spread of the virus.

“A majority were layoffs,” a company spokesperson said, without specifying separately the percentage of furlough and layoffs.

Miami Herald reported the news earlier in the day adding that most of the reductions are permanent layoffs, though some were 90-day furloughs with paid benefits.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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