No handshakes and cancelled business trips: How Swiss companies are reacting to coronavirus

No handshakes and cancelled business trips: How Swiss companies are reacting to coronavirus
Swiss food giant Nestle CEO Ulf Mark Schneider.Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Coronavirus has officially reached Switzerland. Here’s how Swiss businesses are reacting to the spread

The first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Switzerland on Tuesday in the southern canton of Ticino. Swiss businesses, in an effort to halt the spread, have taken up a variety of measures including encouraging employees not to shake hands to cancelling business trips. 

Employees must not shake hands

As reported on Wednesday in Swiss daily 20 Minutes, Swiss building company Holcim told its staff operating on the Italian border to avoid shaking hands due to the virus. 

UPDATED: Switzerland confirms first case of coronavirus

The poster said “Due to the current situation, please avoid shaking hands”. 

Similarly, telecommunications company Swisscom and supermarket Coop have told employees to avoid shaking hands and touching their faces, while reminding them to wash their hands frequently. 

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Swiss Post has also circulated a memo asking employees to refrain from shaking hands and kissing. 

Nestle cancels all business trips globally

Swiss food giant Nestle, owner of KitKat and Nespresso, on Tuesday said it was postponing all business trips until March 15 at the earliest because of the new coronavirus epidemic.

“We have asked all of our employees worldwide not to travel for business purposes until March 15 2020. We will review this measure in light of external developments,” a company spokesman told AFP, quoting an internal note. 

The spokesman said that the company was not calling back expatriate employees but added: “We monitor the situation closely to ensure the safety of our employees.” 

Nestle, which owns a range of household brands including also Nescafe, Maggi and Perrier, employs 291,000 people.

Up to date information

Swisscom told 20 Minutes that they were running an up to date internal memo service with all the latest developments on the virus. 

The Swiss Office of Public Health will release an information campaign detailing how to stop the spread of the virus.

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Posters and leaflets will be left at airports and train stations. 

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