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Facebook advises Bay Area employees to stay home amid coronavirus concerns

March 6, 2020, 1:54 PM UTC

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Facebook is asking its Bay Area employees to work from home starting Friday and cancel all upcoming trips over the rising concern about the coronavirus. The company is also canceling all Bay Area events.

Facebook, headquartered in Menlo Park, announced the new policy on Thursday night, following the news that two more cases of coronavirus had spread to San Francisco residents and 20 cases had been confirmed in Santa Clara County. The county’s public health department advised companies to suspend nonessential employee travel as well as minimize in-person gatherings. It also suggested offering telecommuting options for employees, if possible. 

“Based on guidance from Santa Clara County today, we are strongly recommending that all Bay Area employees and contingent staff work from home starting tomorrow,” Anthony Harrison, Facebook company spokesperson, said in a released statement. “The health and safety of our teams, their loved ones and our neighbors remain a top priority.”

Facebook’s decision comes three days after Twitter and Square, both run by CEO Jack Dorsey, similarly “strongly” encouraged its 9,000 employees to work from home over fear of spreading the virus. It also coincides with multiple cancellations of major tech events including Facebook’s most publicized conference, F8. Meanwhile, Google has converted several of its conferences including its premiere annual event Google I/O into a live streaming event. 

Facebook had already shut down its Seattle office on Thursday after one of its contractors tested positive for the coronavirus. Under the new policy, Facebook said “thousands” of its Bay Area employees, many of whom are involved in the safety and security of its services, will not be able to work from home. Offices will remain open for those employees. The company will continue to do daily deep cleanings of its offices, which it says it has been doing over the last couple of months. 

Facebook said it will continue to evaluate the situation on a weekly basis to determine when Bay Area employees should return to their offices. 

On Thursday, Lyft had also sent its San Francisco employees home after a staff member came into contact with someone exposed to the coronavirus. The company said the action was done out of an abundance of caution and that none of its employees had tested positive for the virus. Employees were advised to work from home for the remainder of the week while the offices were being deep cleaned. 

Google has recommended its employees in Washington to work from home and is also giving Bay Area employees that option if their roles allow, according to a company spokesperson.

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