Every day there are new stories of travel disruptions and public gatherings in Asia being cancelled due to the threat of the COVID-19 virus, AKA the coronavirus. Cryptocurrency and traditional markets have also been affected, with Bitcoin dropping 3% in value due to the virus being detected in Italy. When it comes to crypto exchanges handling the spread of the virus, Coinbase is preparing for the worst case scenario. 

According to a document shared publicly by CEO Brian Armstrong, Coinbase is preparing a four-tier escalation response to COVID-19. Each phase of the plan will be triggered by an increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus or local governments responding with quarantines in close proximity to Coinbase offices.  

Three phases of Coinbase’s response

Once there have been more than 100 cases of “in-the-wild person-to-person virus transmission”, Phase 1 will take effect. Coinbase’s plan includes minor measures like increasing the frequency of cleaning their offices and restricting “office visitors to essential personnel only.” However, it also gives employees the option of working from home. 

The second phase will be implemented when there are 1000 cases similar to those in Phase 1, or some form of government-imposed quarantine is in effect. It escalates the Coinbase response by stopping all visitors to their offices and no longer offering meals on site.

The third phase, however, comes with a disclaimer: “Containment has failed, it’s going to be a wild ride.” Coinbase employees would be required to work from home, and third-party services in offices for cleaning and snacks would most likely be unavailable for an indefinite time. Offices will essentially be in lockdown.

Where Coinbase will be implementing these measures

The crypto exchange has offices in the United States, Japan, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. A Phase 1 response is currently in place for their Japan office.

At the time of the document’s release, Coinbase has restricted business travel for its employees to China, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. Despite these measures, Armstrong remains confident “the risk of COVID-2019 coronavirus to most employees is low”:

"Our expectation is that the measured mortality rate (once low-severity cases are included in the overall count) will fall significantly and that we’ll see limited transmission in the west, where there will be fewer high density multi-generational housing situations."

This is not the first problem Coinbase has faced. In June 2019, the cryptocurrency trading platform crashed, causing the price of Bitcoin to fall by $1,400.