Date
26 February 2020
HSBC, along with other banks, said services in all of its branches in Hong Kong will remain normal, and employees who have to face customers directly are required to wear face masks. Photo: AFP
HSBC, along with other banks, said services in all of its branches in Hong Kong will remain normal, and employees who have to face customers directly are required to wear face masks. Photo: AFP

Multiple companies allow employees to work from home

A number of private companies in Hong Kong have decided to let some of their employees work from home from Wednesday, the first working day after the Lunar New Year holiday, as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus outbreak, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The government announced on Tuesday that government employees, except for staff of departments providing emergency and essential public services, could work from home starting Wednesday until to this Feb. 2, instead of coming to the office.

A host of government services, from court hearings to postal services, are also suspended for the time being. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said stadiums and libraries will be closed until further notice, after a previous announcement that public facilities such as sports centers and beaches would be closed.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said it was taking appropriate measures to ensure its basic functionality.

The Hong Kong Association of Banks reminded members of the public to access banking services through electronic channels such as mobile phones, telephone or the internet, since the number of customers making transactions at banks is expected to be more than usual after the holidays.

HSBC said services in all of its branches in Hong Kong will remain normal, and employees who have to face customers directly are required to wear face masks.

As for back-office staff, they have been encouraged to work from home.

The bank also said it would stop all business trips to the mainland and Hong Kong until Feb. 11. Workers, who have been to the mainland in the past 14 days or have been in contact with people from Hubei province, should remain at home for 14 days.

Standard Chartered has also announced similar measures, RTHK reported.

Both HKT and PCCW said they have adopted flexible working hours and allowed employees to work from home, while all unnecessary work arrangements in the mainland have been canceled.

The two telecom operators intend to keep their shops open and maintain field services, including installation and repair, but employees must wear face masks.

Alibaba has extended the Lunar New Year holiday for their Hong Kong employees until Feb. 2, and employees can work from home between Feb. 3 and Feb. 7. It plans to resume normal operations on Feb. 10.

Tencent’s employees in Hong Kong will also resume work on Feb. 10, but the home office will open on Feb. 1, and from Feb. 3 to 7.

Hong Kong Broadband Network said from today until Feb. 16, all of its back-office staff in the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia are allowed to work from home.

Centaline Property Agency has allowed its pregnant employees to work from home. It also asked all branch employees to notify their branch managers and stay under home quarantine for 14 days if they or their family members had been to Hubei province during the holidays.

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