They are accustomed to the vibrant and hectic scenes of Canary Wharf.

But this week, investment bankers and traders will be swapping their plush central London offices to relocate to Basingstoke as banks take precautions over the spread of coronavirus.

The Hampshire town has been singled out as it has suitable office facilities and fantastic transport links to offer the desperate banks. 

JP Morgan asked staff to relocate to different offices from Monday. The bank hasn’t yet recorded COVID-19 cases but isn’t taking any chances.

Sales and trading teams will be split up and some asked to work at back-up offices in Basingstoke and Croydon. 

Basingstoke Gazette:

Bankers have been testing back-up offices in places like Croydon, South London, and the Hampshire town of Farnborough in recent weeks in case staff need to quickly be relocated.

Major investment bank offices house thousands of staff and the fear is that if even a single employee catches COVID-19, it could spread rapidly throughout the building. With thousands of people passing daily through Canary Wharf, London’s financial centre, any infection could also spread rapidly beyond a single company.

It comes after Thursday when an employee at HSBC tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Staff on the relevant floor of HSBC’s tower block headquarters were evacuated and a deep clean ordered.

The same day, 1,200 employees at nearby S&P Global Platts, a commodity pricing agency, were told to work from home after a visitor was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Most banks have already banned non-essential travel and relaxed rules on working from home in response to the spread of the virus, but some are ramping up precautions.

Regulators require banks to maintain disaster recover plans to ensure they can continue to operate in the event of a terrorist attack or earthquake, for example. The idea is to limit the economic fallout of any disaster by ensuring businesses can continue to get access to credit and other financial products. These plans are now being dusted off in response to coronavirus.