Coping with the Coronavirus Outbreak as a Business: Ongoing Updates
(Last update: February 10th, 2020)
We want to reassure you that you can continue to count on our services and advice throughout the current situation. Our team in Hong Kong resumed work on February 3rd, our Beijing and Shanghai offices reopened on February 10th, and our team in Shenzhen is scheduled to return to the office on the 17th.
Our experience with SARS tells us that it will take weeks, perhaps months, for daily life in Greater China to return to normal. This requires us to find ways to keep functioning as businesses and individuals. Besides taking informed precautions, it’s also essential to continue to interact with trusted parties.
In the meantime, here are some of the internal measures we are taking at Fiducia and practical recommendations we are sharing with clients.
Best Practices for Businesses
1. Actively inform yourself
- Monitor developments closely via reliable sources, such as the Hong Kong Department of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and follow the announcements/guidelines released by Chinese authorities that could affect your operations (see section below on “Latest Updates Affecting Businesses”).
- At Fiducia, we do not allow the sharing of rumours or forwarding of misleading news, photos, or videos.
- Stay in touch with reliable people who are on the ground and can give you real time information: our team members in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Shenzhen!
2. Communicate closely with staff, clients, and partners
- Fiducia managers are communicating with team members individually to keep up their motivation and dedication in this challenging environment. We find that frequent voice / video calls (as opposed to relying purely on written communication) is key.
- Together with HR, managers are monitoring the health situation of team members and their families, and assisting them when needed (e.g. parents who need extra support due to extended school/daycare closures).
- Keep clients and partners informed of your decisions to maintain trust and warn them of any potential disruptions (e.g. office closures or delays).
- Stay in touch with vendors and partners to foresee risks, to offer your cooperation where possible, and as a way of getting additional insights from developments in their region.
3. Introduce alternative work arrangements
- At Fiducia, HR has installed clear work-from-home policies for all team members.
- IT is safeguarding security and optimising remote work, company-wide communications, and virtual meetings to cope with different scenarios.
- More details on flexible work-from-home and back-to-work arrangements here.
4. Ensure personal and workplace safety
- Make sure all employees have read these WHO recommendations.
- Introduce strict safety guidelines at work, including hand-washing and temperature checks when entering the office and staying at home when feeling unwell.
- Make face masks and hand sanitiser readily available for staff. Stock is low in most Chinese cities.
- Consider temporarily closing high-traffic areas prone to transmission, such as factory canteens.
- At Fiducia, we require all employees to fill out a digital survey on a weekly basis to keep a record of their health and travels.
5. Rethink business meetings, events, and travel
- At Fiducia, we have suspended non-essential travel to/between Hong Kong and mainland China until further notice, and introduced a two-week self-quarantine for anyone returning from mainland China.
- As far as possible, keep up or even increase the frequency of your internal and external interactions by holding cross-office/cross-border meetings over the phone and via videocon (Lifesize, Zoom, and, of course, WeChat work smoothly in mainland China).
- When rescheduling an event or meeting, we recommend setting a tentative new date rather than postponing indefinitely to minimise uncertainty.
- Some events and trade fairs around Asia are being cancelled or postponed, so check with organisers if you are planning to attend any in the first half of 2020.
Latest Updates Affecting Businesses
Taxes and operations:
- China’s tax administration has extended the January tax filing deadline from February 17th to February 24th, 2020, nationwide. For companies in Hubei and other strongly affected provinces, tax authorities will allow an even further extension.
- In Hong Kong:
- The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) partially resumed services on on February 3rd.
- The deadline for tax payments and submission of tax documents and information has been extended to February 10th (from January 29th – February 9th).
- The deadline for 2018/19 year loss cases has been extended to February 28th (details here)
- Courts remain closed this week. Collection of documents and attendance to Court Summons will be rescheduled.
- Expect queues and delays in the delivery of mail. Post offices reopened on February 3rd (instead of January 29th) with shorter opening hours.
Mandatory holidays / office closures:
- Businesses in the following regions are set to re-open on February 10th following the official prolongation of Lunar New Year holidays: Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, Guangdong, Hebei, Henan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong, Shanghai, Yunnan, and Zhejiang.
- In Beijing, companies must let employees work from home until February 9th.
- In Hubei province, holidays will be extended until February 14th or beyond.
- In Tianjin, companies are to remain closed until further notice.
- Hong Kong closed most of its borders with mainland China on February 2nd, . The port of Shenzhen Bay, the bridge to/from Macau and Zhuhai, and the Hong Kong international airport remain open, but flights to and from mainland China have been reduced.
- This list outlines all international airlines that have suspended flights to China (updated February 10th).
- On February 4th, American Airlines Group and United Airlines suspended all flights to and from Hong Kong until February 20th.
- The US government is restricting the entry of foreign nationals who have visited mainland China in the last 14 days, as of February 2nd. This measure has not impacted Hong Kong.
- Novel Coronavirus latest information, WHO
- Advice for the public, WHO
- Local situation and guidelines by the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection
- Communication and virtual meeting solutions that work smoothly from mainland China: Lifesize, Zoom, and, of course, WeChat
We will update you regularly on how we and other businesses in Greater China are dealing with new developments. Sign up to our newsletter to receive our alerts and advice.