By John McCrank
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York Stock Exchange is taking steps to separate traders on the floor of its iconic 11 Wall Street building and employees of the NYSE and its parent Intercontinental Exchange Inc <ICE.N>, to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, according to an internal memo sent Wednesday.
The steps, which include mandating separate entrances and eating spaces for floor traders and staff, are aimed at reducing the likelihood that an event in the building’s office tower will impact operations on the trading floor, NYSE Chief Operating Officer Michael Blaugrund, said in the memo, seen by Reuters.
Non-working visitors to the NYSE floor have been kept to a minimum this week, the building has intensified overnight cleaning efforts, and an outside vendor will provide extra deep cleaning on weekends, it said.
“Given the critical work by our NYSE and NYSE American floor communities to underpin the orderly function of global markets, all of these efforts, and others, will remain ongoing until further notice,” the memo said.
Concerns about how the fast-spreading coronavirus will affect the economy have led to global stock market routs, with volumes and volatility spiking to levels not seen since the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
While nearly all U.S. stock trading is done electronically, the NYSE says its hybrid electronic and floor broker model helps keep trading more orderly.
But even the Big Board can operate fully electronically if the floor needs to be shut. The NYSE and exchange operators Nasdaq Inc <NDAQ.O>, Cboe Global Markets Inc <CBOE.Z>, and IEX Group have all said they have regularly tested contingency plans in place to ensure continuous trading if the coronavirus leads to some facilities being temporarily shuttered.
To reduce the chance of that happening, only NYSE and ICE staff who work in the 11 Wall Street’s office tower will be able to eat in the NYSE cafeteria, the memo said. Those who work on the floor will have access to a special food service from NYSE’s Trading Floor Coffee Kiosk.
A restaurant on the exchange’s 7th floor named 1792, after the year the NYSE was founded under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street, will be temporarily closed.
(Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)