Intel restricts employee travel over coronavirus; joins other tech companies

intel sign
Intel joined other tech giants in restricting its employees' travel due to coronavirus concerns "as a precaution." (Intel)

Chip giant Intel has restricted employee travel globally late over coronavirus outbreak concerns, the company confirmed on Friday.  It joins a growing list of tech behemoths, including Amazon, IBM, Facebook and Google, that have restrictions that aren’t apparently as sweeping as Intel's.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, in the tech-heavy Silicon Valley, employs about 118,000 workers in many manufacturing, research and office locations around the globe.   The restrictions apply globally, not just to the headquarters. 

The restriction at Intel applies to “areas significantly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak” as well as attendance at “off-campus events and meetings that don’t apply similar travel guidelines,” according to a statement from an Intel spokesman emailed to FierceElectronics.

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“We’re monitoring the situation closely and working to ensure than our employees have the information and resources they need to stay safe,” the statement said. The spokesman said the restrictions had been in place for several days with the addition of a work-from-home option added on Thursday.

 The virus had spread to more than 100,000 cases globally early Friday, with more than 3,400 deaths, according to FiercePharma’s coronavirus tracker.  

The Intel travel restriction came on the same day that Santa Clara County’s Public Health Department confirmed six new cases of COVID-19 in its jurisdiction, marking a total of 20 people who have tested positive for the virus in the county.

The health agency also issued new guidance to workplaces that said employers should suspend nonessential employee travel and consider implementing telecommuting options for some employees. The county also said it recommends postponing or canceling mass gatherings and large community events where large number of people are within arm’s length of one another.

Here is the full statement from the Intel spokesman:

“As a precaution, we have implemented travel restrictions to areas significantly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, and restricted attendance at off-campus events and meetings that don't apply similar travel guidelines. We’re monitoring the situation closely and working to ensure that our employees have the information and resources they need to stay safe.”

On Wednesday, IBM stopped all domestic travel for internal meetings, according to The Verge. On Thursday, NPR reported that Amazon, Facebook and Google told Seattle workers to stay home and work from home to reduce risks from spreading the virus.

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On Tuesday, Intel Chief Financial Officer George Davis told investors at a Morgan Stanley conference that Intel has seen “modest disruptions and relatively normal operations in China” where Intel has four primary manufacturing facilities in different cities, but not near the epicenter of the virus.

Like other semiconductor makers, Intel’s stock price has been caught in the seesaw market in recent days. The price fell from a high of $68.47 on Jan. 24 to $55.07 at noon eastern time on Friday, which was down 3% from Thursday’s close and down by 19% from 42 days earlier. On Jan. 23, Intel reported record revenue for 2019 of $72 billion.

RELATED: Intel down as virus spreads but 5G silicon could help

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