Advertising agency networks like IPG have banned its employees from travelling to the country while WPP has issued an advisory notice to staff not to fly to the country.
As the outbreak has begun during the Chinese New Year, it is not thought to have been distributive at this time but could become problematic the longer the issue continues.
“After consulting with our medical advisors and closely monitoring the travel advisories from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of State and other public authorities, we’ve decided to impose a company-wide travel restriction to China and Hong Kong due to the Coronavirus health situation. Effective immediately, all non-essential business travel to and from China and Hong Kong will need to be put on hold until the situation improves,” said an IPG spokesperson.
“At this time, this restriction only applies to China and Hong Kong. As always, this decision was made with employee safety and well-being in mind. We do also realize some travel may be necessary so the current restriction does allow for some business-critical travel in certain case-by-case situations.
“If there’s a critical business reason to travel, the travelling party must provide written justification along with management approval to IPG’s Risk office prior to ticketing. In the meantime, even if you don’t travel for work, there are simple precautions you can take to stay healthy,” explained a spokesperson. “We will provide further updates as necessary and thank you for your cooperation.”
WPP also expects staff to work from home following the end of the current holidays too, in keeping with government regulations.
“We’re closely monitoring on the outbreak as it develops,” commented a Havas spokesperson. “While at this stage we haven’t implemented a specific group-wide travel policy, we are strongly advising staff to follow local government and WHO recommendations. In general, these advise against all travel to Hubei Province and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China, and a period of self-quarantine for anyone who has returned from Wuhan within the past 14 days. Some of our offices – particularly those in South East Asia – have chosen to actively enforce similar precautionary measures for anyone with a recent history of travel to China.”
Accenture Interactive declined to comment on its own policy around the outbreak when approached while Omnicom has also advised staff to use their common sense when considering landing in the country. Dentsu Aegis Network had also been contacted but had not replied by the time of publication.
At the time of writing the number infected by the disease was 6,065 people worldwide with all but 68 infections taking place in China.