Karnataka will restrict foreign travel of IT personnel due to COVID-19

Due to Covid-19 infection spreading in a fast pace with three new cases showing positive results in Bengaluru, health minister of Karnataka has decided to ask technology companies to stop sending staff to other countries only if there exists a case of emergency.

Inspite of Health Minister's concern, this move might threaten Bengaluru's IT companies’ markets, creating more than 147billion in India's tech exports. Information on workers who have travelled to affected countries since 21 February has been sought by the State Department of Health. We had previously urged technology companies not to send workers overseas, State Minister of Health, B Sriramulu frames "We will (now) inform companies not to send any personnels unless an emergency is involved". In this context, the government has not yet released a formal letter. Prashant Kumar Mishra, IT and BT Director of the State said that his office had not received a communication about the prohibition. If the health department informs them, they shall enforce the prohibition he added. Most Software MNCs are Bengaluru’s home, housing many global business giants including IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Google and SAP Laboratories who usually travel abroad to meetings and short-term ventures in the US and Europe. In 2019, 4.87 million passengers travelled from Bengaluru and back to overseas destinations, up 14percent year-on-year. Analysts believe that Karnataka's Approach is compatible with global technology firms’ parallel efforts to stop the wave of growing diseases around the world from flowing (avoidable) by their workers.

COVID-19 is a worldwide serious health problem and most technology companies are banning travel said Mrinal Rai, senior analyst at ISG, who claimed that everybody is analyzing market impacts as things develop. The main source of infections in Karnataka, now with four reported Covid-19 instances, are engineers working in technology companies who returned to town in March first week where all of business trips to the US happen. In an internal notice, Dell Technologies India Chairman and CEO Alok Ohrie confirmed the infection and quarantine of a worker. The employee of Dell was back in Dubai from a visit to Austin in the US. Members of the team in Bangalore who may touch the workers impacted work remotely. The local environment, safety and health department of Dell is in touch with those team members in order to closely monitor their well-being.

Mindtree said Covid-19 has been tested positive by one of their staff, who returned from a trip abroad. The employee is under quarantine, along with family members, says Paneesh Rao, CEO of Mindtree. Therefore no travel makes sense said Siddharth Pai, a technical consultant and summed up that as long as the technology companies can handle delays for a few weeks, the state should also limit international travel. Living healthy is important and companies ask their employees to work from home, even in Silicon Valley.

Experts say, business will be as usual even with the restrictions as most technology companies utilize online collaboration devices such as video conferencing or Microsoft teams to communicate. Such instruments were available earlier, but acceptance was small and now are obliged to put in use, ISG's Rai added. A Noida-based HCL Technologies spokesperson said that it is either work from home or remote to further separate people from society to ensure that important workers who need to be on site are healthy in the workplace. A comprehensive precautionary measure have been taken to provide travel advisory services across the entire organization and all non-essential travel has been stopped immediately.