Coronavirus: EU, UN shut hqtrs

The European Commission on Thursday decided to require most of its staff to work from home with effect from March 16 due to the coronavirus.

The president of the EU executive stated this to employees in a video recording yesterday.

Mr. Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson to the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while briefing UN correspondents in New York yesterday, said: “The Secretary-General has taken the decision to cancel all UN systems-sponsored side events at the headquarters from March 16 until the end of April.

“He also strongly urges all member states to consider cancelling all side events for the meetings that they are sponsoring.

“The SG will be communicating with member states and staff in a short while to update them on the preparation measures the UN has undertaken to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak,’’ Dujarric said.

He quoted Guterres as saying in a letter to member states that a three-phase response activation system to manage and coordinate health emergencies is already in place in the organisation.

According to him, the headquarters in New York is currently in Phase 2, which is an “active risk reduction mode”.

The European Commission has decided to require most of its staff to work from home with effect from March 16 due to the coronavirus, the president of the EU executive told employees in a video recording yesterday.

“As of Monday, all colleagues in non-critical functions will have to telework,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told staff.

“Colleagues who ensure critical functions will need to be present at work,” she said, adding that they would work in shifts.

Around 32,000 people are employed by the European Commission, mainly in Brussels but also in Luxembourg.

Von der Leyen said six Commission staff members have tested positive for the virus.

The schools for children whose parents work in EU institutions, which are known as the European Schools, will also close from Monday, von der Leyen said.

Britain and the European Union agreed to cancel face-to-face trade negotiations planned for next week in London due to the coronavirus outbreak, the UK government said yesterday, adding however that alternatives were being explored.

The move threatens a timeline which many in the EU thought was already optimistic, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeking a new deal by the end of the year.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has hit financial markets hard and forced governments to take unprecedented measures to restrict citizens’ movements and limit the spread of the disease.

“Given the latest COVID-19 developments, UK and EU negotiators have today jointly decided not to hold next week’s round of negotiations in London, in the form originally scheduled,” a British statement said.

“Both sides are currently exploring alternative ways to continue discussions, including if possible the use of video conferences.”

Also, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told staff: “As of Monday, all colleagues in non-critical functions will have to telework,” Commission

“Colleagues who ensure critical functions will need to be present at work,” she said, adding that they would work in shifts.

Around 32,000 people are employed by the European Commission, mainly in Brussels but also in Luxembourg.

Von der Leyen said six Commission staff members have tested positive for the virus.

The schools for children whose parents work in EU institutions, which are known as the European Schools, will also close from Monday, von der Leyen said.

Britain and the European Union agreed to cancel face-to-face trade negotiations planned for next week in London due to the coronavirus outbreak, the UK government said yesterday, adding however that alternatives were being explored.

The move threatens a timeline which many in the EU thought was already optimistic, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeking a new deal by the end of the year.

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