Google closing China offices amid coronavirus outbreak

Key Points
  • Google is temporarily shutting down its China operation due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The company is asking employees with traveled family to work from home for at least 14 days.
  • Google joins Facebook and Apple, among many other U.S. companies, to suspend travel due to the outbreak.
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Google is temporarily closing its China offices and restricting travel amid the outbreak of the coronavirus, a spokesperson confirmed to CNBC.

The shutdowns, first reported by The Verge, will affect Google's offices in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The company has also placed temporary travel restrictions on workers flying to China and Hong Kong.

The shutdown comes as other U.S. companies including Facebook and Apple limit work as it tries to mitigate the risk of the virus that's killed more than 100 people and infected more than 6,000. At least five cases have been confirmed in the U.S.

The municipal government of Shanghai issued a notice Monday ordering companies not to resume work after the Chinese New Year holiday until Feb. 3, instead of Jan. 31. The outbreak is already said to affect Apple's supply chain and products expected to launch in the first half of 2020.

Google has at least four offices in China's mainland and five in Taiwan, according to Google's website. The offices in mainland China focus on sales and engineering for its advertising business.

It is also telling employees from other areas who are in China to return home as soon as possible, and to work from home for at least 14 days following their departure. has also issued a $250,000 grant to the Chinese Red Cross and launched an internal fundraiser, which has already raised $500,000. 

The company has faced complications in trying to do business with China. It withdrew its search operations in China in 2010, pulling out of an enormous market. It considered re-entering the market in 2018 but abandoned those conversations after facing backlash from employees, and eventually politicians, who criticized it for wanting to provide a censored search engine.

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