Web Summit organisers make Toronto event online-only due to coronavirus

Business as usual at Central Bank as staff member tests negative

The organisers of the Web Summit has said its sister conference Collision, which was to be held in Toronto in June, will now be an online-only event due to the spread of the coronavirus that leads to Covid-19, with chief executive Paddy Cosgrave concluding it would be "irresponsible" to hold the gathering.

The decision came as more businesses in Ireland took precautionary steps to prevent against the spread of the virus or ran “fire drill” exercises to test their home working capabilities.

There was good news for the Central Bank, however, as the coronavirus test taken by one employee proved negative.

“The Central Bank of Ireland is pleased to confirm that the Covid-19 test result for a member of staff has come back negative. The Central Bank continues to operate as normal and will closely follow HSE guidance on Covid-19,” it said in a statement on Friday evening.

More companies are holding web conferences in place of face-to-face meetings. Mr Cosgrave said people who had been due to attend the Toronto event could take part in “Collision from Home” as an alternative.

“For now, given the evolving nature of Covid-19, we think gathering tens of thousands of people from almost every country in the world in one place this June would be irresponsible. Toronto has not suffered a significant Covid-19 outbreak, and at Collision we want to ensure that remains the case.”

He said while the conference will take place online, attendees will also get full transfers of their tickets to next year’s in-person event. Alternatively, they can request a full refund from today or up to 30 days after attending the remote version.

Meanwhile, Facebook said it was “temporarily halting” social visitors to all of its offices worldwide, but continued to welcome business visitors as usual. The company has put in restrictions on business travel to Italy and South Korea, as well as to and from mainland China.

Remote working trials

Companies that trialled company-wide remote working on Friday expect employees to return to work next week.

Vodafone was among the many companies locally to request employees to work remotely but said employees will be back in the office on Monday. Penneys, which also asked staff at the head office to work from home on Friday, said the request had been made in order to test the group’s IT systems. Staff are due to return to the Dublin HQ next week.

Online recruiter Indeed, which employs more than 1,000 people across two offices in Dublin, last week asked all of its employees to work from home until further notice in a bid to minimise the risk to employees from the spread of coronavirus. This remains the situation.