Omnicom bans Far East travel as coronavirus spreads

omnicom2Omnicom has become the first agency group to issue travel bans for agency staff to and from most major countries in the Far East – as well as Northern Italy – in the wake of growing concerns that the coronavirus will turn into a global pandemic.

The group, which boasts over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries and over 80,000 staff, has named China, Japan, Hong Kong, Iran, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and even Northern Italy as no-go zones.

Omincom is home to some of the biggest agency brands in the world, including Rapp, Proximity, BBDO, TBWA and OMG, whose London office was closed earlier this week as a precautionary measure. Most London agencies are based at Bankside, just off Southwark Street, on the south side of the Thames (pictured).

In an email to staff, global CEO John Wren said: “Our first priority – now and always – is the health and safety of our people. As the number of reported coronavirus cases continues to grow, especially outside of China, we are updating our guidance.

“Omnicom and our agencies will continue to follow the advice of the appropriate national regulatory authorities, as well as the World Health Organisation.”

Travel to or from the countries on the list has been postponed until further notice. All staff returning from these regions – and even those who have not been away but who live with people who have visited the named countries –  have been asked to work from home for 14 calendar days, even if they do not show signs of illness.

Wren concluded: “We will monitor the situation as it evolves and continue to update our guidance accordingly. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the leadership of your agency.”

WPP and IPG have already restricted staff travel to China, although this has yet to be expanded to other regions.

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