Banks are not scared of swine flu

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The WHO has raised the pandemic alert level to five, and according to The Telegraph, companies like Honda have banned all overseas travel for their employees.

Banks, however, appear comparatively relaxed. Of all we spoke to, none had banned people from traveling altogether, although several (Morgan Stanley, Nomura, BNP Paribas, and Citigroup) are discouraging people from flying to Mexico for either business or personal reasons.

Some, such as Merrill/BofA and Goldman don't appear to have any travel restrictions in place at all.

Ernst & Young, which discovered a swine flu carrier in its New York office and subsequently permitted her colleagues to work from home, is still allowing people to travel to New York, but is not allowing them to travel to Mexico.

People don't seem to be succumbing to pandemic paranoia. "I'm quite happy to keep flying, personally," said one corporate finance MD.

"We had much stricter travel restrictions during the bird flu outbreak and still managed to function fine. We have phones, e-mail and video conferencing, as well as facilities in place to move offices or work from home if necessary. International travel isn't essential to the day-to-day running of the organisation," said a bank spokesperson.

It probably helps that banks in the City spent six weeks in 2006 rehearsing for a bird flu pandemic. This year, they're supposed to be preparing for a nasty flood.

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