EXCLUSIVE: Hearst Tells Editors to Work From Home Following Milan Coronavirus Outbreak

by Charles Manning

The fashion world is on high alert following the outbreak of more than 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Italy over the last few days, most of them in and around Milan. As the Fall 2020 shows continue in Europe, Hearst is taking steps to sequester potentially infected staff by enacting new policies that requires anyone who has traveled to Italy in the last 30 days to work from home for at least 14 days after returning to the US, only reentering their offices if they are symptom-free following the two-week waiting period.

Today, Hearst Magazines president Troy Young sent the following memo to the company’s US-based staff.

Hi All,

We’ve been closely following the news and meeting regularly about COVID-19 and the impact it is having around the world.

As the virus continues to spread, the safety and well-being of our employees remains our primary focus.

We know there are questions about what this means for those who are traveling, for either business or personal reasons. We are working through this in real time, as the situation quickly evolves, and will provide updates as they become available.

Here are our guidelines for Hearst Magazines U.S.:

Non-essential travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea is not advised. Employees returning from any of these countries within the last 30 days are required to work from home for 14 days and should return to work only if they’re symptom-free after that time. If you are scheduled to travel to one of the impacted areas for business, please cancel your plans.

Employees who have recently traveled throughout Europe and are experiencing flu-like symptoms should consult a doctor and contact HR before returning to work. Following guidance, they may be asked to work from home until cleared by their doctor.

In general, employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100° F/37.8° C or greater using an oral thermometer), show no signs of a fever and have had no other symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.

Our European and Asian businesses will continue to follow the guidelines of their local government health agencies.

If you are concerned about the coronavirus, you can access Hearst’s Live and Work Well program for free emotional support. The helpline is available 24/7 by calling 1-866-248-4096.

You can also visit the CDC and World Health Organization websites for the latest information about the virus, its prevention and treatment, what to do if you are sick, answers to frequently asked questions and more.

I realize people may be feeling anxious, but I encourage everyone to go about their daily lives to the best of their ability. We’ll be sure to keep you informed if and when we make updates to any protocols.


Troy Young
President, Hearst Magazines

According to an anonymous source inside Hearst, this policy was relayed to staff abroad, including editors attending the shows, before the release of the internal company memo, although they could not be more specific than that.

The memo does not outline any specific plan of action for editors heading to Paris from Milan, although a representative from Hearst told The Daily that “editors traveled to Paris from Milan before we put any new guidelines into effect” adding that the company would be “following developments and making decisions in real time based on how situation is evolving.”

As of the time of this posting, it does not appear that Hearst has ordered any of their employees to cut their Europe trips short.

We will update this post if and when more information becomes available.

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