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UBS restricts non-essential travel by employees due to virus

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UBS is restricting international travel by employees that’s not critical to its business due to the global spread of the coronavirus.

The Swiss lender said that all travel requests would need special approval and existing international travel plans would need re-approval, according to an internal memo to employees and which was confirmed by a UBS spokesperson.

Additionally, the bank said employees who have traveled to, from or through China, South Korea, Italy or Iran are required to work from home or take a leave of absence for 14 days following their return. The same also applies if a member of their households has traveled.

UBS has placed Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore on an elevated watch list and, pending further developments of the virus, may request employees having contact with those regions to quarantine themselves or work from home. More countries could be added to the list, according to the memo.

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The move by UBS follows similar bans on global travel by peers JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.

As outbreaks erupted in South Korea, banks including UBS and Citigroup began splitting workers among different locations to ensure business can continue. Some locations in Europe may follow suit as the virus spreads there.

Outside the financial world, firms ranging from the world’s largest trader of farm crops to the biggest food and beverage company have also suspended business travel, increasing the risk to the global economy as markets tumble.

Bloomberg News