Fox News limiting staff in office amid coronavirus crisis

Fox News limiting staff in office amid coronavirus crisis
© Greg Nash

Fox News said in a memo on Thursday that it will be "reducing the staff footprint" at its New York City headquarters and other bureaus starting Monday, with the goal to "limit personal interaction" due to the coronavirus outbreak and protect the health and safety of its employees.

The memo from Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News, and Jay Wallace, its president and executive editor, also says studio audiences for live shows such as "The Greg Gutfeld Show" will be canceled while shows will rely more on Skype interviews to limit the number of people coming in and out of its headquarters.

The measures come amid the closures of numerous government buildings and the cancellation of major events across the country over the past 24 hours, along with the suspension of professional sports seasons. Live audiences for multiple national TV shows have also been suspended, while many businesses are advising their employees to work from home for the time being.

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"First and foremost, we are reducing the staff footprint at our headquarters in New York and some of our bureaus and will be instituting telecommuting starting Monday, March 16th for all of those departments capable of doing so," reads the joint memo from Scott and Wallace.

"We have been preparing for this over the last week by implementing test days for multiple departments and have found various measures that work well" including telecommuting, it later adds.

The memo also underscores "extensive sanitizing procedures" that have been put into place "more than two weeks ago which include continuous cleaning and disinfecting" throughout facilities, "especially all shared spaces and common areas where we have instituted commercial-grade treatments."

Fox News will also be "reducing in studio bookings across linear platforms and where possible, shows are being directed to rely on remotes or Skype," with all non-essential business travel" being prohibited since a directive was implemented on Monday.

The network's Ad Sales Upfront presentation originally scheduled for March 24 at its Manhattan headquarters has also been cancelled.

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"Furthermore, as we have communicated in the virtual employee address and in multiple company-wide memos, we advise all employees to alert their manager or Human Resources if they have either had contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 OR if they have been in close contact/are living with anyone who has recently returned from heavily impacted areas including China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, all of which have a Level 3 Travel Health Notice which indicates “widespread ongoing transmission” per Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Any contact along these lines may warrant self-quarantine for a 14-day period," the memo also reads.

"Please keep in mind that viewers rely on us to stay informed during a crisis of this magnitude and we are providing an important public service to our audience by functioning as a resource for all Americans," it adds.

"We have the utmost concern for your health and safety and while we understand these are difficult circumstances to operate under, the aforementioned contingency plans have been implemented as precautionary measures to ensure your well-being. Thank you for your continued patience, diligence and perseverance during this challenging time. We will continue to keep you informed on a regular basis," the memo from Scott and Wallace concludes.

Fox News joins a number of other media outlets that have instructed some employees to work from home if possible due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Several programs with live audiences, including NBC's "Today" show, Stephen ColbertStephen Tyrone ColbertColbert: 'We're American, there's nothing we do better than not doing things' Seth Meyers returning to late-night TV with 'hybrid episodes' 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' returning Monday with Biden interview MORE's "Late Show" on CBS, John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" on HBO, "The Daily Show" with Trevor NoahTrevor NoahThe Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on .2T stimulus after mad dash to Washington NBC News employee dies following coronavirus infection 'Today' show staffer tests positive for coronavirus MORE on Comedy Central, and ABC's "The View," announced they will suspend live studio audiences for the time being.