- Face masks will be mandatory in Goldman Sachs’ London office, despite UK mask restrictions lifting.
- Staff were notified in an internal memo sent by the bank’s International CEO.
- Read the memo in full.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
In the UK, July 19 is being hailed as “freedom day.”
The country has maintained pandemic restrictions over the last few months such as social distancing, wearing face masks on transport, eateries, and shops, and working from home.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to lift these measures on Monday, meaning pubs and clubs will reopen, and the wearing of face masks will no longer be compulsory.
But with coronavirus infections high and rising in the UK, companies are issuing their own mandates on coronavirus safety as white-collar workers return to the office.
Goldman Sachs told London staff on Thursday that the wearing of masks will be mandatory “at all times” at its European headquarters, except for when staff are sitting at their desks. Social distancing measures will also remain, as will the bank’s on-site testing program.
The measures may be down to the fact the bank is allowing staff back into the office who have not had both vaccine doses, though it is measuring vaccine uptake.
Insider obtained a copy of the internal memo sent to all staff by Richard Gnodde, the CEO of Goldman Sachs international on July 15.
The memo was sent the day after an official visit by Prince Charles to the bank’s London office. The royal met summer interns, banking analysts, and executives.
Gnodde later told the BBC that the bank expects 70% of staff to have returned to the physical office over the next few months. But the bank will not insist on staff being fully vaccinated, or force them back if they feel uncomfortable.
Goldman Sachs invested £1 billion ($1.4 billion) when it opened its European headquarters on Plumtree Court in 2019. The 10-story offices come equipped with a creche and lactation pumps for breastfeeding mothers. At its peak capacity, it housed 6,000 staff.
Read the memo in full:
15 July 2021
UK Reopening: What This Means For Return to Office
As you will be aware, from Monday, 19 July, the UK government will be lifting all restrictions on social contact, including removing the guidance to work from home. This follows the positive progression of the vaccination rollout amongst the broader population.
However, the government has advised caution and a gradual return over the coming weeks. Therefore, in light of this guidance and the current levels of external community infection, the existing in-office health and safety measures will remain unchanged for now.
These include the wearing of masks at all times, apart from when seated at your desk, social distancing, and participation in the on-site testing programme, which has proved a critical safety measure in identifying non-presenting cases of COVID-19. Encouragingly, through our contact tracing process, we have not seen any cases of COVID-19 spreading within our office so far.
On a related note, thank you to all who participated in our second London vaccination survey; nearly three-quarters of you responded which has been helpful for us in understanding the vaccination uptake of our UK population. Of those that responded, the vast majority have received one dose and nearly half are fully vaccinated, showing a significant upward trajectory since our first survey in June and positive outlook for overall vaccination levels in the weeks ahead.
This has been a long and tough journey, but the resilience you have shown throughout has been outstanding. We will continue to monitor local case rates and public health safety guidance, and will update our in-office protocols as and when appropriate.
In the meantime, I hope you all manage to take some time this summer for some much-deserved rest.