Updated February 14, 2020
The latest information on how the coronavirus is impacting corporate relocation and global assignments.
Together with our on the ground partners, we are continuing to monitor the situation and are drawing on multiple government and news sources to keep our clients up to date and informed. In Mainland China, many offices have reopened this week, although companies are encouraging their employees to continue to work remotely from home, as per government recommendation. For the most part, Hong Kong companies have returned to business as usual.
For Mainland China:
Impact on Destination Services:
– Most international schools in China will remain closed until at least 2nd March 2020, with the possibility of this being extended further. Most schools have implemented an online, home-schooling process, which reportedly is causing additional stress for parents during these challenging times. Campus visits during school search program can currently not be conducted. Admissions offices are working for most schools and are in contact with assignees on applications that have already been submitted.
– Property Viewings continue to be severely restricted in most locations as many compounds are still conducting a resident-only policy. Only people currently residing on the premises are allowed to enter most gated compounds and we are therefore restricted in what properties can presently be shown to incoming assignees.
– Expat-focused doctors and hospitals remain open, but are asking patients to only visit by appointment and if absolutely necessary. Patients with fever symptoms are not permitted to enter but are required to go to government-run hospitals instead.
– Service apartments and hotels have established additional safety measures and are requesting for travel itinerary from guests checking in. Residences of Hubei province and those with Hubei ID cards are only permitted to stay in government-approved hotels.
– Social Activities: Most social expat and sports activities and clubs remain closed. Public gatherings such as dining with large groups are discouraged (and in some areas in fact prohibited). Gyms are closed until further notice, as are playgrounds, some malls and cinemas. The extend of these closures differ from location to location.
– Supermarkets and grocery stores remain largely open, although opening hours have been modified. We are not receiving any news or reports on food shortages, except for hygiene masks and any kind of sterilizing sprays and handwash.
– Daily life: Most residential compounds remain generally closed to outside visits. Courier and food delivery etc. must be picked up at one designated entry gate. All comings and goings are monitored with temperature checks. If residents are showing temperature above 37.3 degree, they will need to visit a designated fever clinic and are not permitted entry to the compound. Residents must register with the property management to enter the compound. Most cities are advising travelers to take a 14-day home quarantine if they were travelling outside their home city over Chinese New Year. Local community representatives are regulating and enforcing these home quarantines and measures vary between compounds.
Impact on V&I Services
– The China exit-entry bureaus and local foreign expert bureaus have returned to work since February 10th.
– For new residence permit application, physical presence at the local bureaus is still required.
– In general, the exit-entry bureau encourages companies not to submit visa application for the next two weeks, unless they are deemed urgent.
– Overall delays in the application process are to be expected.
For Hong Kong:
On February 13, the Education Bureau announced all schools should defer class resumption for two more weeks, that is, 16 March. Schools have implemented online classroom support and circulating homework assignments for continuation of learning throughout this period. Additionally, the civil service, which includes Hong Kong Immigration, is expected to continue working from home until February 23 (subject to further confirmation). Immigration has suspended filing of new work visa applications and while visa renewals are being accepted, there is no timeline as to when Immigration will revert on these applications.
Landlords do expect prospective tenants to wear masks to view and some buildings have implemented temperature checks upon entry.
Our partner providers are taking maximum precautions and efforts to make sure that the services which can be delivered will be delivered as safely and efficiently as possible. We are expecting delays for new assignees inbound to China.
Please note all dates and all travel/closure advisories are subject to change. We strongly urge clients to confirm closure dates and travel restrictions with in-country resources in China and via official websites and news sources.