March 13, 2020 / 6:12 PM / 19 days ago

Colombia market regulator relaxes rules to allow remote working over coronavirus

BOGOTA, March 13 (Reuters) - Colombia’s Stock Market Self Regulator (AMV) on Friday relaxed rules to allow traders to work remotely, rather than at their terminals, as a precautionary measure in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Ministry of Health confirmed four new cases of the respiratory illness in the Andean country, taking the number to 13 cases, which is lower than other countries in the region.

The AMV temporarily relaxed restrictions on the entry and use of mobile devices in places set up for different financial activities. However, organizations should keep a register of the location and dates where personnel work outside of their offices, it said.

“Given the situation we must ensure that markets can continue to operate so as not to affect clients and investors,” said AMV president Michel Janna.

“The priority is to maintain the liquidity of the markets, their transparency and integrity,” he added.

The highly-contagious, sometimes deadly novel coronavirus that emerged in central China in December has spread to more than 130 countries and infected over 138,000 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

The banks have formed contingency plans for telecommuting to allow employees to work from their homes or other offices. “With prevention in mind, we divided the work team so we have some people working at central headquarters and others at the secondary headquarters, with all equipment fully functioning,” bank BBVA in Colombia said in a statement.

“We are also working so that some of our team can work from home,” the bank added, saying authorities were being kept informed.

President Ivan Duque on Thursday declared a health emergency to contain the outbreak of coronavirus, suspending public events of more than 500 people and the docking of cruise ships.

The central bank also took measures to maintain market liquidity during the international turmoil that has provoked record devaluations in local assets. The Ministry of Finance has not ruled out additional measures.

Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra Writing by Oliver Griffin Editing by Bill Berkrot

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