IBM announced Wednesday that it’s halting all domestic travel for internal meetings and cutting down on international travel because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The company is also banning employee participation in external events with more than 1,000 attendees. IBM says those restrictions apply through the end of March.
IBM is also changing its IBM Think 2020 developer conference into a “digital-first” event, though the conference will still place from May 5th to May 7th. Domestic travel for work with clients is still allowed, but the company is encouraging employees to hold meetings virtually when possible.
Canceling conferences, or making them virtual, prevents crowds where the virus can spread — and limiting in-person contact is aimed at the same thing. Preventing employees from attending large group events is a form of “social distancing,” which may prevent people from coming into contact with others who are sick.
IBM’s restrictions announced today are similar to others announced by tech companies due to coronavirus fears. Google, for example, has canceled two major conferences and limited employee travel. Facebook has restricted social visits to company offices. Twitter is “strongly encouraging” its employees to work from home.
If an IBM employee travels to a “restricted” location, which is presumably one of the countries with larger outbreaks such as China, Italy, or Iran, the company is requiring the employee to self-quarantine for 14 days after their trip is completed.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has infected more than 95,000 people globally and killed more than 3,200 people.
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