The organizers of a conference on “Doing Business Under Coronavirus” have decided they can’t carry on with business as usual.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) had scheduled a roundtable in New York City for Friday where business leaders were to discuss how to carry on doing business at a time when supply chains are breaking down and many people are working from home.
“Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Council on Foreign Relations, like many other organizations, has suspended all in-person events effectively today through at least Friday, 3 April 2020,” the not-for-profit group told The Independent.
“Our foremost concern is for the health and safety of Council members, staff and the community.”
Watch: Why social distancing and self-quarantining save lives in an outbreak. Story continues below.
The decision affects a number of other in-person conferences held by the CFR in New York between now and April 3, and it comes amid a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in New York State. The number of cases in New York City reached 46 as of mid-day Wednesday.
The risk that business conferences pose was highlighted this week when it was revealed that a person carrying the coronavirus had been to a mining conference in Toronto attended by more than 20,000 people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Even before the World Health Organization called the outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday, many large events had been cancelled out of fears of transmitting the virus. City officials in Austin, Tex., have cancelled the famed SXSW music festival, while the Stagecoach and Coachella music festivals in California have been delayed to the fall.
Numerous tech industry conferences and auto shows ― typically scheduled for the early months of the year ― have been cancelled as well.
This year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo are also at risk of cancellation. The International Olympic Committee has said the Games will go on, but there has been some speculation that, if the virus is still a threat at the time, athletes may compete without spectators in the stands.