Canada’s trade commission outlines four considerations for businesses to make in the time of coronavirus or COVID-19.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), holds real consequences on the local as well as the interconnected global economy.
Restrictions on mobility and public gathering, along with the resulting market uncertainty, bring challenges that businesses, including higher education institutions (HEIs) and international education platforms, need to tackle.
Here are four considerations to make, according to Canada’s trade commission.
People are a crucial part of any organization. At a time of global health emergencies, it’s crucial to protect staff and implement open, two-way communication to achieve this goal.
No employer should be forced to lay off workers due to the virus, while no employee should worry about their job while on quarantine. The Canadian government’s $1 billion response fund for the virus, for instance, offers support for both employers and employees through the Work Sharing program, as well as by waiving the one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance sickness benefits.
Here are some tips from WHO for a COVID-19 ready workplace:
Make sure workplaces are clean and hygienic.
Promote regular, thorough hand washing in everyone.
Promote good respiratory hygiene, such as making face masks available for those who need them.
Consult national travel advice before going on business trips.
Brief employees, suppliers, and partners on how COVID-19 spreads, and advise staying at home once they start to feel symptoms.
Financial implications and business preparedness
A government’s sound fiscal status makes it well-positioned to respond to the challenge, including the coronavirus’ impact on people, small businesses, and the economy as well. Businesses, in turn, need to have contingency plans to manage potential financial risk.
According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, some of the things that businesses need to plan during COVID-19 in the event it escalates include:
Staff absences due to personal illness, sick family members, feeling of safety being at home, etc.
Disruption to essential services such as information, telecommunications, financial services, energy supply, and logistics
Disruption to supply of necessary materials or contractors
A dramatic climb or fall in demand for products and services
Cancellation or disruption of travel and cross-border movement of people and goods
Cancellation of public meetings or gatherings such as conferences, sporting events, and religious events
Impact on the trade status of the country and trading partners
Heightened public fear causing citizens to avoid public places, including frontline retail and tourism establishments
Business travel and organized events
There should be foresight on the impact of international travel on business operations. Canada as well as other governments around the world have issued active travel health notices for COVID-19, updating them regularly based on the latest risk assessments.
Here are some risk mitigation strategies during mass or public gatherings:
Reducing the number of participants or changing the venue to prevent crowding
Staggering arrivals and departures
Providing packaged refreshments instead of a buffet
Improving access to handwashing stations
Promoting personal protective practices such as hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
Providing alternative virtual or live-streamed activities
Changing the event program to reduce high-risk activities, such as close physical contact
Exporting and conducting business internationally
In an increasingly interconnected world, COVID-19 has a direct hit on business done in international markets. Trade commissioners are tasked to provide companies with market-specific insights and guidance in mitigating COVID-19 effects.
Check out frequently asked questions for those in the exporting business at a time like COVID-19.
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