Taylor Wessing has closed its London base following a confirmed case of COVID-19 among its ranks.
The firm is the first U.K. outfit to confirm a case of coronavirus.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the firm emailed all its people to inform them that a colleague had tested positive for the virus.
The person told Law.com International’s U.K. arm: “They sent an email and referred to ‘a colleague.’ I imagine they need to check who they came into contact with but also want to respect privacy – tricky balance.”
In a statement, Taylor Wessing managing partner Shane Gleghorn told Law.com International: “We have received the news that one of our London-based colleagues has tested positive for COVID-19. The person concerned has been self-isolating for the past week, has had a mild reaction and is recovering well at home.”
He said that the London office will be closed until March 18, with the date under review.
He added in a statement: “Since initial announcements on Covid-19 were made in the last few months we have been closely monitoring developments and working with various health organisations and regulatory bodies. The safety, health and wellbeing of our people and our clients is of primary importance and we have been implementing additional measures across our business in line with their guidance .”
Meanwhile fellow U.K. firm Simmons & Simmons is set to close its London office on Monday, as it follows others in testing its remote working capabilities in view of the virus outbreak.
A person with knowledge of the situation told Law.com International that the brief closure will “give staff the opportunity to update home working practices, with a view to also safeguarding employee health in the long run, given the continuing presence of Coronavirus.”
A spokesperson said in a statement: “Simmons is following advice from authorities in the countries affected by Coronavirus to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff. Any employee that has recently visited high-risk areas is instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days and non-essential business travel and event attendance have been restricted.
“The infrastructure and functionality is in place, should significant parts of the firm need to work remotely. Simmons will continue to update its responses in line with the guidance issued in each of the regions where it has a presence.”
Last month, Baker McKenzie closed its London officer after an employee reported being ill after returning from Italy, the firm later reopened after they tested negative for the virus. In New York, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan shut its office after a member of staff caught the virus.
Additional reporting by Hannah Roberts.