Here’s how Charlotte employers are responding to coronavirus

Here’s how Charlotte employers are responding to coronavirus
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This story was last updated at 2:13 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18. We’ll update this regularly as part of the Agenda’s ongoing coronavirus coverage. Any new information will added below and included in our daily newsletter.


Now that coronavirus has arrived in Charlotte, many local employers are acting swiftly to move work online, discontinue business travel, and enact new guidelines in the likely event there are more cases.

New guidelines for employers: On Thursday afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper and other state officials released additional guidance for employers.

  • Any event that expects to have 100 or more people present should be rescheduled, canceled, or modified.
  • Employers should “use teleworking to the greatest extent possible,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Employers should hold large meetings remotely.
  • Employers are being asked to maximize sick leave benefits and encourage employees to stay home if they’re ill.

We’ll be following what Charlotte-area businesses are doing in response to the coronavirus pandemic and regularly updating this story. Employers below are grouped by industry.

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Local government:

  • City of Charlotte is closing its buildings to the public indefinitely beginning on Wednesday, March 18. The following facilities will remain open: CMPD stations, fire stations, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and CATS stations, including the Charlotte Transportation Center. Last week, the city canceled all nonessential business travel for employees. Supervisors must approve any other trips.
  • Mecklenburg County has also closing its buildings to the public and suspending its services starting March 18. That means that public health facilities are closed, as are county parks. The county also canceled all nonessential business travel for employees.

Financial:

  • Wells Fargo said a Charlotte employee at One Wells Fargo Uptown has been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for coronavirus. In a statement, the bank said it performed “enhanced cleaning” and asked employees who have been in close proximity with the individual to work from home. Before this, Wells Fargo had already restricted all international business travel and non-essential U.S. travel.
  • Bank of America has similar international and U.S. travel restrictions as Wells Fargo.
  • Ally Financial is requiring all employees to work from home for 30 days starting Monday, March 16. “During this time, we will continue to evaluate the situation and will communicate any extension, if necessary,” executives said in an email.
  • Truist donated $25 million to various COVID relief efforts and is giving employees 10 extra paid days of leave, reimbursement for childcare for some, and increase in emergency child and elder care benefits.

Education

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is closed for all students, but CMS told its 19,000 employees to report to work.
  • UNC Charlotte: All UNC System institutions, including UNC Charlotte, are moving classes online no later than March 20. “Our goal is to return to in-person instruction as soon as reasonably possible,” UNC Charlotte said on Wednesday. Residence halls will remain open, and the university is encouraging employees to work remotely if possible.
  • Central Piedmont Community College has extended its spring break until Monday, March 23, and “classes will resume in some format on March 23.”
  • Davidson College mandated it would move to remote instruction. It also asked all students who can leave the residence halls to do so. All faculty members will go remote, and the college is offering training for assistance.
  • Queens University followed a couple hours later with a similar announcement. It will move to online instruction for the rest of the semester.
  • Johnson C. Smith University extended its spring break through March 27. Starting March 30, classes will be online only, and JCSU residence halls will close for the rest of the semester. 
UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte (Agenda archive)

Health:

  • Atrium Health, which is the largest employer in Charlotte, has discontinued domestic and international business travel. Atrium is also strongly discouraging personal travel to restricted countries, including China and Italy. Anyone who travels there is subject to a 14-day quarantine.
  • Novant Health is similarly restricting business travel for all of its employees. Anyone within Novant who takes personal travel to a coronavirus-affected area must check in with a supervisor for guidance about when to return to work, Novant says.

Media:

  • A Charlotte Observer journalist was among the 1,000 attendees at a New Orleans conference last weekend where someone tested positive for COVID-19. Employees of McClatchy, the Observer’s parent company, who may have been exposed are in quarantine and working from home for 14 days, according to the Miami Herald. McClatchy spokeswoman Jeanne Segal told the Agenda that editors instructed Observer and News & Observer staffs to work from home Wednesday. Crews cleaned and sanitize the newsrooms.
  • According to reporter Joe Bruno, many WSOC employees are working from home. Visitor access for the office is being limited.
  • Charlotte Agenda: Our staff is working from home and will do so indefinitely.

Sports:

  • Panthers staffers have been instructed to work from home. The team will also prohibit scouts, coaches, and other officials from flying, according to The Athletic.
  • The Hornets announced Sunday the team established a fund to support hourly employees who will lose wages because of cancelled events at the Spectrum Center. The fund will compensate more than 500 part-time employees scheduled to work at suspended NBA games and G League games, as well as postponed Spectrum Center events and concerts.

Spectrum Center

Retail:

  • In addition to travel restrictions, Lowe’s, which employs about 10,000 throughout the region, says it’s implementing new temporary time-off guidelines. They will “give our associates even greater flexibility and pay them for the time they need to stay home and get well,” CEO Marvin Ellison said.
  • Walmart has had one employee in Kentucky test positive for coronavirus. Nationwide, including more than 16,000 employees in Charlotte, it has implemented new policies in response: Walmart will waive its attendance occurrence policy through the end of April, and if an employee is part of a required quarantine, he or she will receive up to two weeks of pay. Same goes for if they have a confirmed case of the virus.
  • Food Lion has issued travel restrictions for employees and is encouraging those who don’t feel well to stay home.
  • The following retailers in the Charlotte area announced temporary store closures:
    • Apple (until at least March 27)
    • Warby Parker (until March 27; employees will be paid for that time)
    • Anthropologie (until at least March 27)
    • Urban Outfitters (until at least March 27)
    • Free People (until at least March 27)
    • Nike (through March 27; employees will be paid for that time)
    • Lululemon (through March 27)
    • Abercrombie & Fitch (through March 28)
    • Lush (March 16 through March 27)
    • Girl Tribe (until further notice)
    • JCrew and JCrew Factory stores (until March 28; employees will be paid for that time)
    • Nordstrom (until March 31; employees will be paid for that time)
    • Belk (through Monday, March 30; employees will be paid for that time)
    • Macy’s (through March 31; employees will be paid for that time)
    • Sephora (through April 3; in-store employees will be paid for their scheduled shifts and corporate employees are working from home)

    Food/Drink:

    • Sycamore Brewing paused all operations on Friday until further notice. “As a popular destination in Charlotte’s social community, matters of our employees’ and customers’ health and well-being are of paramount concern,” brewery owners shared in a statement. Co-owner Sarah Brigham told the Agenda all full-time staff will continue receiving regular paychecks.
    • Bardo co-owner Jayson Whiteside said they are “encouraging staff to stay home if they have any concerns of their health.” Additionally, the team is evaluating the timeline for their next restaurant, Vana, to minimize risk.
    • Wooden Robot Brewery CEO and co-founder said the company has asked “staff members with any sick symptoms to stay home at all times.”
    • FS Food Group (Mama Ricotta, Yafo, Midwood Smokehouse) said it has implemented additional preventative sanitation measures. “We have been and will continue to stay in close contact with the Health Department and industry experts on the best response to this situation.”
    • Snooze has instituted daily wellness checks and travel restrictions for employees. The Denver-based breakfast spot has a location in Plaza Midwood.
    • Lost & Found has closed indefinitely.

    Fitness

    • Fitness studio Hilliard Studio Method is closing through March 29. “This is heartbreaking for us to do and we aren’t sure how or if we will bounce back from this, but we know in our hearts this is the right thing to do,” HSM told clients.
    • Flywheel Sports, which has a cycle studio on Providence near Cotswold, is temporarily closing all of its locations indefinitely, starting Tuesday, March 17.
    • YMCA Charlotte branches will be closed to members/programming from end of day Tuesday, March 17, through at least April 1. This move includes suspension of member access and group fitness classes, the Y says.
    • Burn Boot Camp is temporarily closing its doors, the gym said in an email to members.
    • Barry’s Bootcamp is closing all its studios across the U.S. and Canada
    • Yoga One is closing for two weeks starting march 17.
    • NoDa Yoga is closing through the end of the month.
    • Orangetheory is closing all its local studios temporarily
    • Pure Barre has closed for at least two weeks.

       Other:

      • Red Ventures has asked all employees to work from home while it awaits the results of a Charlotte employee who has been referred for coronavirus testing, CEO Ric Elias said in a statement.
      • Wyndham Capital Mortgage is requiring its employees to work from home starting Monday. “We hope our actions, set the Corporate example for other businesses and to follow suit. If other business leaders do the same quickly, we can significantly slow the spread of this virus and better protect our communities,” CEO Jeff Douglas said.
      • Starting Monday, Duke Energy is encouraging all employees who can work remotely to do so through the end of March. The company, which employs about 8,000 people in Charlotte, is also continuing to restrict travel, practice social distancing, and conduct meetings via video or teleconference where possible.
      • With more than 300 members, Advent Coworking has implemented additional precautions. It will now require members who are sick or have traveled to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, or on a cruise to refrain from coming to Advent until after the 14-day quarantine period. The coworking space will also postpone all tours, external bookings, and in-person onboardings until April 15.

      What has been your employer’s response to the coronavirus pandemic? Email us at hi@charlotteagenda.com.

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