JPMorgan, Citi tell employees who can work from home to do so

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JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup told employees if they can work from home to begin doing so this week, escalating efforts to prevent the deadly coronavirus from spreading among staff.

Citigroup's directive, which applies to employees in the New York metropolitan area, excludes "site-dependent" personnel, referring to people essential to running operations, such as those in sales and trading, as well as bank-branch workers. The change means legions in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who had been scheduled to rotate among sites will instead stay away from those offices until further notice.

"This is intended to help keep colleagues safe by decreasing the amount of people traveling to and working in our sites," the bank said in a memo to employees that was seen by Bloomberg. Branches will remain open.

JPMorgan's operating committee told its workers worldwide that their managers would begin arranging for those employees who can "effectively" work from home to begin doing so.

"This is only for employees who have roles that can be performed from home," the firm said in an internal memo. "We know many of you need to continue to work on site because of your customer-facing roles or other jobs that cannot be done from home -- particularly in our branches and call centers. We are actively reviewing how we can best support you at this time."

The move comes as cities and states around the U.S. join governments throughout the world in taking unprecedented measures to arrest the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, crowds of more than 50 people are banned, and bars, restaurants and gyms will close at 8 p.m. tonight. States including California, Ohio and Illinois are taking similar steps.

Rising tally

Another Citigroup employee was confirmed to have the virus on Sunday, adding to a rising tally of infections at global banks. That person is based at Citi Centre in London's Canary Wharf and was last at the office on March 10. "We are hopeful of a quick recovery," the firm said in a memo.

Citigroup and JPMorgan join firms including Capital One Financial Corp. and Jefferies Financial Group Inc. in sending most employees home to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

"We are mindful of the stresses," Jefferies said in a note to clients. The bank said it continue to "do everything we can to assure that our technology and communications systems facilitate the best experience and capabilities possible."

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