Electronics giant LG is issuing a blanket employee travel ban to China amid the coronavirus outbreak. The South Korean company says it is also requiring all traveling employees currently in China to return home, while all future travel plans to the country must be approved through a special request.
“Effective this week, LG Electronics has implemented a complete travel ban on employee travel to China. Non-China based employees currently in that country are required to return to their home countries immediately,” an LG spokesperson tells The Verge. “If travel to China is absolutely essential, employees are required to request and receive special approval in advance. We are confident that the disease can be contained if everyone — including corporations doing business in China — is prudent and makes safety of their employees their number one priority.”
LG was among the first companies to publicly outline limits on employee travel plans regarding the coronavirus earlier this week, and it is now among the first companies to issue an outright travel ban. The virus has claimed at least 132 lives in China so far and has spread to more than 6,000 people, many of whom are located in the Hubei region of the country near the outbreak’s origin in the city of Wuhan. Yet many companies, including Apple and Facebook, stopped short of a complete employee travel ban, allowing so-called “essential” business travel to and from China for now.
That may change in the coming days and weeks, and travel to China may become further restricted both for businesses and commercially, unless containment of the virus is successful. United Airlines yesterday announced it would begin canceling flights to China next month due to extreme drops in consumer demand, while American Airlines today announced it was suspending flights between Los Angeles and mainland China from February 9th to March 27th due to a “significant decline in demand.” The Trump administration is also reportedly mulling over a complete travel ban on all US-China flights.