All European Commission employees in non-critical functions will have to work from home to contain the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), starting from Monday.
After cancelling all non-essential trips, external meetings and conferences, as well as increasing the number of teleworking employees, the Commission has now asked its staff members in a non-critical function to work from home starting from Monday, as a precautionary measure, a Commission spokesperson confirmed to The Brussels Times.
Employees in critical functions will still need to be present in person, but measures will be taken to reduce the risk of being infected, it is understood.
The decision was made to protect the well-being of the staff members, but at the same time maintain the capacity to act and ensure the functioning of the EU, The Brussels Times has learned.
In an email to all staff on Thursday evening, the Commission listed the following measures:
• As of 16 March, all colleagues in non-critical functions will telework. Colleagues who ensure critical functions will continue to be present at work, working in shifts.
• Also as from 16 March, all European Schools and Commission crèches/kindergarten will close as a precautionary measure, to reduce the spread of the virus.
• Any person with symptoms is asked to stay at home / self-isolate.
• Hygiene measures are systematically being reinforced and staff have been asked to observe them meticulously.
• Meetings or events with colleagues travelling from another country are held via video-conference or postponed if rescheduling is not possible. In case a meeting takes place, the lists of participants are being registered.
• All group visits are suspended. Decisions to maintain meetings with external individual visitors (fewer than 5) are taken on a case –by –case basis.
• All classroom courses and other training events for staff are suspended.
• Only absolutely essential missions (within or outside EU) will be maintained, provided that they cannot be replaced by videoconference.
The announcement comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday declared the spread of the coronavirus a global pandemic, and the latest scientific advice telling people to apply social distancing measures as much as possible.
The Brussels Times