Apple, Google, and others asked to avoid travel and cancel big events

Santa Clara County issued new coronavirus prevention guidanc

Companies based in Santa Clara County, California — which includes Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose — should avoid travel and postpone or cancel mass gatherings, the county recommended on Thursday. The recommendations come after six new cases of the novel coronavirus have been identified in the area, bringing the total number of people confirmed locally to have the disease to 20.

The county’s guidance affects several major Silicon Valley employers. Apple, for instance, is headquartered in Cupertino; Google in Mountain View; Tesla, in Palo Alto; Netflix, in Los Gatos; LinkedIn, in Sunnyvale; Adobe, in San Jose; and Intel and Nvidia, in Santa Clara. Other companies with offices in the area might be affected as well, such as Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft.

Other guidance from the county includes minimizing the number of people “working within arm’s length of one another,” urging people to stay home if they’re sick, and spacing out start and end times of the workday for employees. People at higher risk for serious illness — those who are over 50 or have another underlying health condition — should stay home.

The county recommendations are an attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus by limiting in-person contact. Many of the tech companies based in the area — the “valley” in Silicon Valley referred originally to the Santa Clara Valley — have already made their own attempts to curb the disease’s spread.

Here are the policies The Verge is aware of that are in place by Santa Clara County-based companies:

  • Adobe has canceled the in-person part of its Adobe Summit conference.
  • In late February, Amazon asked employees to defer all non-essential travel. It also recommended Seattle-based employees work from home until the end of March after a Seattle-based Amazon employee has tested positive this week for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
  • Apple has restricted travel to Apple has restricted employee travel to China, Italy, and Korea, according to a company email seen by Bloomberg. The company is also encouraging virtual meetings. Apple has not announced dates for an expected late March event, which would have presumably been hosted on its Cupertino campus, or the Worldwide Developers Conference, which has taken place in San Jose in recent years. The company also pulled out of the SXSW conference. Apple has recommended that employees at its Cupertino headquarters work from home, reports Business Insider.
  • Facebook has restricted employee travel to China, Italy, and South Korea, the company tells The Verge. Otherwise, “if someone has an international trip planned for business reasons, they should use their discretion to decide whether to travel,” the company said in an email. There are no restrictions on US domestic travel. Facebook has already canceled the in-person portion of its F8 developer conference, fully canceled a global marketing conference, and pulled out of SXSW. It has also asked its Seattle-based employees to work from home until March 31st after a contractor based in one of the company’s Seattle-based offices tested positive for COVID-19. And in a company Q&A, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly recommended that Bay Area employees who are able should work from home, with the company also stopping buses that run to its headquarters from San Francisco. Facebook has temporarily banned social visitors to its offices.
  • Google has banned all international travel, according to NPR. That follows a late February ban on travel to Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea, and a late January ban on travel to China. Google has already canceled the in-person portions of its Google I/Oand Cloud Next conferences. Employees have been asked to cancel local events unless they are business critical and not to attend large external events unless they are critical, reports CNBC. Google told employees on Thursday, March 5th that all Bay Area employees could work from home on Friday, March 6th “if roles allow,” according to CNBC. Washington-based employees were also allowed to work from home this week, reports GeekWire, and employees have been asked not to bring visitors to its Washington-based offices. All job interviews globally will be virtual “for the foreseeable future.” Staff who have traveled to vulnerable countries must self-quarantine for 14 days, said CNBC. The company has confirmed that an employee in Zurich, Switzerland has COVID-19.
  • Intel withdrew from Mobile World Congress, which was set to be held in February before it was canceled.
  • LinkedIn has halted non-essential business travel and requested that San Francisco Bay-area employees work from home through the end of March. It pulled out SXSW this week and has made all job interviews virtual for the time being.
  • Microsoft, based in Redmond, is letting employees based in the Bay Area and Seattle work from home until March 25th. The company is recommending that employees postpone travel to the Bay Area and Seattle and has asked that all non-essential travel to regions with COVID-19 outbreaks be canceled. Microsoft also canceled its upcoming MVP Summit. Microsoft reported two employee infections late Thursday night in the Puget Sound area that includes Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters.
  • Netflix has pulled out of SXSW.
  • Nvidia canceled the in-person part of its GPU Technology Conference, which was originally set to take place in San Jose.
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