This message is being posted on behalf of xtraCHEF CEO, Andy Schwartz.

For the past couple of months, coronavirus news and updates have become part of our everyday lives. And now, with cases in over 114 countries and the number of people affected growing by the day, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared a pandemic — the first since the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.

Prevention is escalating quickly in the U.S., with the NBA season getting canceled indefinitely and spectators no longer allowed at March Madness matchups. Large events that bring a lot of business to local communities, like SXSW, are getting put on hold. And the situation keeps changing by the day. 

Restaurant owners and operators have already seen the effect of the coronavirus firsthand: Fearful and misinformed people are avoiding Chinese restaurants in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and many other major cities across the states. But it’s tough to say what the total impact on the industry will be just yet. Our friends, customers, and contacts have let us know they’re already seeing dips in reservations, and large events are getting cancelled across the board. Catering businesses are especially feeling the squeeze.

Be Proactive is one of our core values at xtraCHEF. Being proactive is incredibly important to us because it allows us to look at the bigger picture, see potential outcomes, then take appropriate and immediate action. It’s what guides our decision-making for acting in the best interest of our customers, as well as acting in the best interest of our company and our people. What’s become clear over the past few days is that this is a prime time to Be Proactive and do the right thing for public health.

With that said, out of solidarity with the restaurant industry and the drive to help protect the greater good, xtraCHEF has made the decision to withdraw from all of our upcoming event appearances. Last week, we made the last-minute decision to not attend the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show in New York. It was the right call for our team then, and continuing these preventative measures is also the right call now.

We love these trade shows, conferences, and meetings, and put a lot of time and money investments toward our participation in them. But is it worth putting our team, our colleagues, and our industry at further risk? Absolutely not.

Behind the scenes, we’re taking steps to Be Proactive for the health of our employees and their local communities. Starting today, March 12, we’ve offered voluntary work from home time for the entire xtraCHEF team — extremely important since most of them use public transit to get to the office. This shift in operations will have no effect on the service our customers expect from xtraCHEF. As a SaaS startup, we’ve been using virtual communication and collaboration tools since the beginning, so we’re already well-positioned to continue business as usual.

My advice for my team and anyone else who’s concerned about keeping themselves and their community safe? Listen to the experts! The WHO’s guidelines are straightforward but important: wash your hands thoroughly and regularly; keep your physical distance from others; don’t touch your face. Read all of the tips, and follow them closely.

Other people in our industry have some words of wisdom, too. The National Restaurant Association is offering professional guidance on how to deal with the coronavirus; this guide is especially helpful and available in English and Spanish. We especially liked Danny Meyer’s response on behalf of Union Square Hospitality Group, and how Starbucks is being proactive to help their employees during these times — though we’re fully aware not all restaurant operators can do the same at this scale.

No one gets into this industry expecting it to be easy, but let’s be honest: this is a tough time. And yet, we have to remember that we’re resilient, tough, and willing to do what we need to in order to keep our doors open. Things might be hard for a couple of weeks — or even for a couple of months — but you will come back stronger. And xtraCHEF will be here to help lift you back up.