Coronavirus: UN, EU Headquarters Shut

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

The EU executive president said this to officials in a video recording yesterday.

Mr. Stéphane, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while informing UN correspondents in New York yesterday, said: “The Secretary-General made the decision to cancel all side events sponsored by UN systems at headquarters from March 16 to the end of April.

“He also strongly recommends all member states to consider canceling all side events for the meetings they are sponsoring.

“The SG will contact the member states and the team shortly to update them on the UN preparedness measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Dujarric.

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

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

The European Commission has decided to demand that the majority of its staff work from home from March 16 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the president of the EU executive told officials in a video recording yesterday.

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

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

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

Von der Leyen said that six Commission officials tested positive for the virus.

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

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

The move threatens a timetable that many in the EU already considered 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 has forced governments to take unprecedented steps to restrict citizens’ movements and limit the spread of the disease.

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

“Currently, both sides are exploring alternative ways to continue the discussions, including, if possible, the use of videoconferences.”


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