Companies establishing their first lines of defense

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Companies establishing their first lines of defense

With the virus outbreak threatening Korea, companies are doing what they can, incrementally upping their defenses against the contagion.

Much of what they are doing involves creating a first line of defense at their office doors. This includes visual heat sensors, manual checks for fevers and stations for sanitizing hands.

For some companies, the possibility of infection means shutting down sites altogether. Factories, department stores, supermarket chains and entire factories have been closed temporarily out of an abundance of caution.

At Hyundai Motor, anyone with a temperature above 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is advised to check again three minutes later. The person will be sent home if the final figure is above 37.5 degrees Celsius. Outsiders are forbidden altogether.

“With the [government having] raised the level of danger of Covid-19 from caution to serious, preventive measures for [the] Yangjae headquarters will be escalated. Company outsiders will be restricted from entering the building,” read a message sent out to Hyundai Motor staff on Monday.

For contact between employees, face-to-face meetings have been postponed or replaced with video sessions. Employment interviews for preselected job candidates have been postponed indefinitely.

On Monday, LG Electronics and CJ Group completely shut their Seoul headquarters buildings.

Several SK Group companies pushed back working hours on Monday, allowing the workers to come to the office by 10 a.m. The intention was to help them avoid taking public transportation during peak times.

The SK Holdings office in Seorin-dong, central Seoul, normally allows its employees to choose seats reserved through a mobile app. By default, the app does not allow employees to work on the same floor for more than three days in a row. This setting was adjusted on Monday in order to minimize movement inside the building.

Lotte Group, which has retail operations in central Seoul and a cluster of offices in Songpa District, southern Seoul, ordered employees to refrain from visiting each other’s offices. Meetings with more than two participants are to be done by phone. If they must meet in person, masks must be worn. Employees with outside appointments were advised to head straight home after the meeting.

Steelmaker Posco told workers who reside in or have visited Daegu to share their routes with the company.

On Monday, LG Electronics closed its Incheon research and development center after a family member of an employee was confirmed to have the coronavirus on Saturday. The employee in question is still waiting for the results of the test, and the company explained the measure is preventive. The center has 2,500 employees.

The Samsung Electronics smartphone factory in Gumi, North Gyeongsang, restarted operations Monday after being closed over the weekend. This plant manufactures the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy S20, the newest smartphone releases by the tech giant.

But more than a thousand workers will stay home after either contacting an employee confirmed with the virus or visiting Daegu, the city with the most infection cases in Korea.

BY LEE SOO-KI, LEE DONG-HYUN, KANG KI-HUN AND SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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