Santa Clara County Asks Apple, Google and Others to Cancel Large In-Person Meetings and Conferences

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Santa Clara County, which includes cities like Cupertino, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose, today issued new health guidelines (via The Verge) recommending that companies minimize or cancel “large in-person meetings and conferences.”
The updated guidance comes as six new COVID-19 cases were found today, which means there are now at least 20 people in the county with known coronavirus infections.

Santa Clara County is hoping to reduce the spread of the virus in the Bay Area, and in addition to recommending against in-person conferences, has provided additional guidelines for employers:

  • Suspend nonessential employee travel.
  • Minimize the number of employees working within arm’s length of one another, including minimizing or canceling large in-person meetings and conferences.
  • Urge employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits.
  • Not require a doctor’s note for employees that are sick as healthcare offices may be very busy and unable to provide that documentation right away.
  • Consider use of telecommuting options for appropriate employees.
  • Consider staggering start and end times to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time.

While Santa Clara County recommends postponing or canceling mass gatherings and large community events, it says if there’s no option to cancel, extra steps should be followed such as providing more physical space, encouraging sick people not to attend, frequent hand washing, and avoiding close contact with others.

Google and Facebook have already canceled annual developer events that were set to be held in Santa Clara County, with Facebook canceling F8 last week and Google canceling I/O earlier this week.

Santa Clara County has no specific dates included in its recommendations, and Apple has not yet made any announcements about WWDC, which is typically held in June at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.

Apple may still have some time before it makes a decision about whether to cancel WWDC this year because of the coronavirus, but with the county’s recommendation and the fact that Google and Facebook have both canceled events, Apple may choose not to hold WWDC.

There were also rumors suggesting Apple would hold an event in March to announce new products like a low-cost iPhone, AirTags, and updated iPad Pro models, but that seems unlikely to happen at this point. Apple could hold an online only event or simply debut new products via press release.

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