Roy Gilbert

Canadian companies ramp up coronavirus precautions with travel restrictions, work-at-home options

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None of Canada’s big banks would confirm whether they have taken specific virus-related measures for their workers. Some of Canada’s biggest employers have begun imposing restrictions on staff and are crafting alternative working arrangements to ensure business continuity as the coronavirus continues to spread in North America.

Among them is accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP, which has placed limits on “non-essential international and domestic travel” on its 3,300 employees in Canada, in addition to asking staff to utilize “alternative ways of connecting” in getting their work done, according to a spokesperson.

The company has also directed employees to defer travel to “countries at highest risk of coronavirus,” specifically China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea and parts of Northern Italy.

“EY people returning from those locations are required to abide by governmental recommendations for a 14-day self-quarantine period,” said Camille Lariviere, the company’s public relations specialist.

At online retailer Shopify Inc., meanwhile, employees have been told to say home if they feel unwell or have travelled to a “high risk” region. Non-essential work travel is being cancelled and, last week, the company announced it was pulling the plug on Unite, its annual developer and partner conference due to COVID-19 concerns.

Manulife Financial Corp. also told the Financial Post the company was encouraging employees to “work from home,” in addition to ensuring “more frequent office cleaning.”

“If you are trying to limit the exposure of your employees getting sick, sure, it may make sense to have more telecommuting options,” said Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease […]

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