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Zuckerberg says Facebook won’t run large physical events until June 2021

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in an open letter to his employees, has ruled out the company holding physical events for more than 50 people until June 2021.

Although Zuckerberg framed his letter as an address on how the company was approaching the re-opening of society, the Facebook CEO said he was “slowing plans to return to the office in order to prioritise helping the rest of our community and local economy to get back up and running first”.

“A small percent of our critical employees who can’t work remotely, like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware, may be able to return sooner, but overall, we don’t expect to have everyone back in our offices for some time,” Zuckerberg continued.

Zuckerberg said Facebook was “canceling any large physical events we had planned with 50 or more people through June 2021. Some of these we will hold as virtual events instead.” He added that the company was extending its policy of no business travel through at least June of this year as well.

“Most Facebook employees are fortunate to be able to work productively from home, so we feel a responsibility to allow people who don’t have this flexibility to access shared public resources first. I hope this helps contain the spread of Covid-19 so we can keep our communities safe and get back up and running again soon,” the CEO said.

Facebook had already cancelled its F8 annual software developer conference that usual

ly attracts 5,000 delegates. It had been due to take place 5-6 May in McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. The Oculus Connect 7 virtual reality conference in San Jose planned for the fall is also now cancelled, instead moving to a digital-only format later in the year. It has been reported that Facebook would donate $500,000 to the city of San Jose to make up for the loss in revenue from Oculus Connect 7.

The cancellations are a blow to US cities and vendors and adds further pressure on the travel industry and another example of large tech companies being among the first to shy away from large events.

The Facebook news comes soon after Microsoft announced that all of its upcoming external and internal events will be held online until July 2021.

Google and IBM have cancelled May developer conferences but stopped short of the longer bans announced by Facebook and Microsoft.