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Visa locks down floor in London HQ because of coronavirus exposure risk

Reuters/Philippe Wojazer
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  • John Detrixhe
By John Detrixhe

Future of finance reporter

London

Visa is locking down part of an office in London because an employee may have been contracted Covid-19, according to people familiar with the matter. The containment effort at the payment giant takes place as the world’s biggest financial companies take measures to restrict the spread of the disease.

Visa warned employees of the potential virus exposure and sought to contain any transmission risk in part of an office. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have closed one floor in our London offices following the potential exposure of an employee to COVID-19,” a Visa spokesperson said after the company was contacted by Quartz. “Visa remains vigilant in monitoring the Covid-19 situation globally, in consultation with relevant authorities and experts. The health and safety of our employees remains a top priority, and we have implemented a number of safety measures and precautions to help mitigate the chances of the virus impacting our teams and our ability to service consumers, merchants and our clients.”

Visa told employees that it was taking some additional steps to protect workers. The company “deep cleaned” its common areas over the weekend, and is doing enhanced cleaning on a regular basis.

The payment company is far from alone in taking extraordinary action to contain the outbreak. Banking company HSBC recently evacuated a floor of an office tower in a Canary Wharf, London’s financial district, after a worker was confirmed to have Covid-19. Major US banks like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have reportedly been testing alternative locations and redeploying staff around the UK capital, while Wall Street banks in New York like Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have also been activating contingency plans for traders and other employees to work from backup locations.

It comes as Covid-19 is stretching supply chains, causing worker shortages, while also cutting off travel as conferences are canceled and travelers stay home. Financial companies, meanwhile, are maneuvering to keep the staff in place as markets have been extremely volatile, with stock market swings activating circuit breakers, government bond yields setting record lows, and oil prices crashing. Payment company shares have declined amid concern that cross-border transactions could drop.

Update: the headline has been amended to show that one floor was affected, and paragraph three has been added for additional context.

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