Bankers returning to Goldman Sachs’ London office from Monday will be required to wear face masks.
The company hopes that 70% of its UK staff will return to offices over the coming weeks as government advice to work from home is withdrawn on Monday, but it will not insist upon people returning if they feel uncomfortable doing so.
Although face coverings will be mandatory, Goldman Sachs International chief executive Richard Gnodde has said the company will not insist on employees being vaccinated.
He told the BBC that it was committed to its London head office, which was visited by the Prince of Wales earlier this week in recognition of the bank’s commitment to the UK.
“The centre of gravity for our workforce is going to be in our buildings and it will be in this [London head office] building,” said Gnodde.
Return to offices
“Our focus is very much on securing a safe workplace. People will still be wearing masks in the building.
“[We will] continue to manage our exit from this in a cautious and appropriate way to make sure that our people feel comfortable.”
With the legal requirement to wear face masks in certain settings, such as retail, set to end in England on Monday, numerous organisations will be encouraging staff and customers to continue wearing them, amid a rapidly increasing infection rate.
On 15 July, 48,553 new cases of Covid-19 were reported. Some 261,832 positive cases have been identified over the past seven days, an increase of 32.6% on the week before.
New guidance leaves organisations to decide their own safety policies after 19 July, but the government has said it “expects and recommends” shoppers in England to wear face masks from Monday.
The UK’s two largest supermarkets, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, were the latest to announce that they will continue to ask shoppers to wear face coverings from Monday in order to protect staff, joining organisations including Asda, John Lewis, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl, Ryanair and easyJet, among others.
Earlier this week, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady described the government’s strategy as a “recipe for rising infections” and criticised ministers for not consulting trade unions.