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State-owned farm that restricts non-essential travel due to coronavirus. See what the other major employers are doing. | Business

BLOOMINGTON – The coronavirus epidemic is leading to some travel restrictions and warnings for Bloomington-Normal companies, including State Farm, which is limiting all non-essential business travel until March.

“We believe this step will help keep our employees healthy and limit exposure across the country,” said State Farm spokeswoman Gina Morss-Fischer.

Country Financial hasn’t limited business travel at the moment, but spokesman Chris Stroisch said, “We are allowing employees to decide whether to postpone or cancel their travel plans.”

The University of Illinois previously restricted travel to countries listed on Level 2 or higher by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and strongly recommended that students studying abroad in Italy and Japan return at home.

The State Farm action was called “precautionary” by Morss-Fischer, who said: “We want to do everything we can to protect our employees and serve our customers.”

The restrictions will not apply to disaster response, such as the Nashville tornado, he said.

“In a company like ours, our response to a catastrophe like the devastation of Nashville is essential,” said Morss-Fischer. “We have to respond to make sure our team is there to help customers.”

He added, “What we are especially talking about is domestic travel,” but it would also apply to any international travel.

He said the company is monitoring conditions and will adjust its actions as needed.

Stroisch also said that the country “follows the situation carefully and follows the guidance of reliable resources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” and continues to evaluate its plans.

Rivian Automotive has asked employees across the company to adhere to CDC consultancy to limit travel to certain countries, said Zach Dietmeier, communications manager for the normal Rivian manufacturing facility. While vehicle production is not expected to start there until the end of this year, the facility employs around 225 people.

CDC urged people to avoid traveling to countries hard hit by the coronavirus, including China, Iran, South Korea and Italy.

“This is not an absolute ban,” said Dietmeier. “We are encouraging employees, if possible, to avoid countries listed in government advice.”

“We haven’t limited domestic travel to this point,” he said.

For employees who need to travel to those countries for personal reasons, Rivian can ask them, on their return, to work from home for seven to 14 days, said Dietmeier.

In the meantime, Rivian is providing more soap and hand sanitizer in all of its locations, he said.

State Farm communicated with employees the ways to protect themselves not only from the coronavirus but from the flu and other diseases.

“We are also cleaning common surfaces more frequently, such as door handles, elevator buttons, escalator guides, vending machine fronts, and bathroom surfaces,” said Morss-Fischer.

Stroisch said Country had “taken additional precautions in our corporate offices to minimize the spread of germs.”

Paul Swiech contributed to this report.

Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota

Contact Paul Swiech on (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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