Coronavirus Interrupts Business as Usual at the SEC

March 12, 2020

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has dramatically interrupted business as usual at the SEC. In addition to extending filing deadlines for affected companies, the regulator has asked its employees to work from home, postponed a conference on municipal securities and cancelled a public vote on a (subsequently adopted) proposal to ease audit requirements for smaller companies.

According to reporting by The Washington Post, on March 9, the SEC ordered personnel working on the ninth floor of its Washington, D.C. headquarters to telework and encouraged all others to do the same. The order came after an SEC employee who is feared to have contracted COVID-19 was treated for respiratory symptoms earlier in the day. Also on March 9, the SEC postponed a conference titled “Spotlight on Transparency: A Discussion of Secondary Market Municipal Securities Disclosure Practices” that had been scheduled for March 10.

On March 10, the SEC cancelled a public meeting that had been scheduled for March 11 for the purpose of voting on proposed amendments to Exchange Act Rule 12b-2 that would revise the “accelerated filer” and “large accelerated filer” definitions in order to reduce costs for certain lower-revenue companies. As discussed elsewhere in this edition of The Ticker, the SEC subsequently adopted the amendments without a public meeting on March 12.

Despite the SEC’s assurances that it remains fully operational, the regulator’s recent moves suggest that COVID-19’s “spread in the nation’s capital could slow down routine government policy-making,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

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