Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group — the second firm to launch Bitcoin Futures in the United States — will close its Chicago trading floor effective March 13 in proactive response to coronavirus being named a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Importantly, trading will still continue per usual. This is simply about keeping 450 traders and trading floor staff out of the same physical space to guard against infection.
Financial markets across the U.S. have been severely affected by the outbreak, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1,500 points in 24 hours at the time of writing.
Closing trading floor is precautionary
CME is the world's largest financial derivatives exchange, and trades in agricultural products, fiat and cryptocurrencies, interest rates, metals, and stock indexes. The group released a statement citing the precautionary principle:
"No coronavirus cases have been reported on the trading floor or in the Chicago Board of Trade building. The reopening of the trading floor will be evaluated as more medical guidance on the coronavirus becomes available."
To date, the coronavirus outbreak has been responsible for stopping most flights to and from China, closing Italy to the entire world, and earlier today, travel restrictions between Europe and the United States.
However, there are no plans yet announced to close the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, despite the 200+ confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city. The Nasdaq, also based in NYC, is preparing a backup trading floor and data facility in Philadelphia's Navy Yard business center, but remains open for business.
Coinbase, the crypto exchange out of San Francisco, and Messari, a crypto analytics firm in New York City, have both announced employees will work from home until further notice.
Blockstack and the Winklevoss Twins are also encouraging employees to work remotely.
As of today, the United States has 1,322 confirmed cases of people infected with COVID-19, with 38 reported deaths.