I'm close to those near such discussions.
COVID-19 may be the excuse, but after this years key products go out the door there is a mass layoff expected to hit like in September 2018, probably a lot bigger even. It will likely be around the same time in 2020 as the graduates are co-incidentally being on-boarded. The focus will be on engineers and many projects will suffer losses only to be replaced with dozens of graduates.
Local groups are being forced to hire huge amounts of grads this year beyond the capacity of any of the offices can hold, you do the math.
The salary increases were only a temporary measure to ensure key projects didn't collapse but now there is serious resentment from above over their mistakes and a refresh of the staff is needed.
The company is also saving the money from the layoffs to invest heavily in legal resources as it intends to use litigation to snuff out RISC-V as it knows it can't compete with their business model. (Frivolous lawsuits around IP breaches to waste their time and resources, much like Qualcomm tried.)
They also know that many people will be job seeking as the economy slows down and later in the year want to make room to hire people at a discount.