Spanish banking group Santander has asked its Madrid employees to work from home for the next 15 days in line with central and local governments' latest announced package of measures to stem Coronavirus.
Spain's government announced on Monday the temporary closing of all educational institutions in Madrid and other hard-hit regions in response to a surge in the number of Coronavirus cases in the regions.
The government also urged people in Madrid and the towns of Vitoria and Labastida in the Basque Country to work remotely and to avoid all "unnecessary" travel and meetings as the number of infected people in Spain more than doubled in one day from 469 to 1,200 on Monday. As of 10 of March, the number raises to 1,235 with 578 cases in Madrid and 148 in the Basque Country.
Santander's latest announcement follows other measures taken in recent weeks across the Group in all its markets, including the restriction of non-essential employee travel and meetings involving a large number of people.
The board of directors of the Spanish bank has also approved a series of measures to ensure adequate support for its clients. These include providing SMEs with liquidity lines where appropriate to mitigate the impact on their activity should this be required.
Another measure announced by Santander has to do with the next Annual General Shareholders' Meeting (AGM), scheduled for 3 of April.
The board believes that, consistent with its recommendations for employees, the safest way to ensure all shareholders can exercise their rights in the upcoming AGM is through participating remotely instead of attending in person, or voting in advance either themselves of through nominated proxies.
Santander said that the package of measures had been made taking into account practices followed by both multinational companies and international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Group executive chairman Ana Botín said: "The health of our employees, customers and shareholders is of utmost priority to us all, and in recent weeks we have taken a number of actions to protect their wellbeing, while also ensuring the bank continues to meet its obligations as normal.
"Given the ongoing evolution of the Coronavirus outbreak, and in line with the recommendations of global and local health authorities and governments, we believe that the most prudent action is to ask our employees at our largest centres in Madrid to work from home at this stage."