England reopens, but companies lift restrictions more slowly

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After 16 long months, the UK government lifted nearly all of its pandemic restrictions across England on Monday, including its advice for working from home.

But with the arrival of the so-called Freedom Day, the country is reporting nearly 50,000 new cases of coronavirus per day in a population of which two-thirds are fully vaccinated. And now a “pingemia, In which hundreds of thousands of people are interviewed by the National Health Service’s track and trace application and ask them to self-isolate because they were in the vicinity of a person who tested positive, causes staff shortages in all industries.

Rather than a stampede of workers returning to their offices, many large companies are approaching the reopening with caution, as the government says there must be “personal and corporate responsibility” for certain measures. At 10 a.m. on Monday, trips on the London Underground were 38% of normal demand, no more than the same time last week, and the vast majority of people still wore masks.

And so, most employers maintain a voluntary return to the office, requiring masks to be worn away from desks and limiting their office capacity to avoid overcrowding. For example, the bank of england ask staff to come back only once a week from September. But there was an easing of policies on Monday within the central bank – restrictions on the use of elevators have been relaxed and spaces between offices will be removed.

At JPMorgan Chase’s London offices, which typically house 12,000 employees, masks still need to be worn in common areas and meeting rooms, social distancing indicators are still marked around buildings, and capacity remains capped at 50 %. The biggest change on Monday is that employees on any team are allowed to return to their office if they wish, which has increased occupancy slightly by around 30% recently, but is still fine. below its capacity. Over the summer, the bank intends to gradually raise the limit.

In the City of London, the capital’s main financial district, health and safety measures at Goldman Sachs’ 826,000 square foot European headquarters remain the same. This means that workers must wear a mask when they are not seated at their desks and continue to participate in the on-site testing program. Social distancing will reduce the normal capacity of the office. Recently, on average, about 30-40% of the 6,500 bank employees were in the office.

Goldman Sachs is also monitoring vaccination rates from voluntary surveys of its staff, which have shown a “significant upward trajectory” since June, according to an internal memo.

“We will continue to monitor local case rates and public health safety advice, and update our in-office protocols as appropriate,” said the memo, sent by Richard Gnodde, managing director of Goldman Sachs International.

At McKinsey & Company’s London office, masks will only be required in high-traffic areas from Monday, the one-way system around the building will be abandoned, there will be no limits on the number of people who can use a meeting room and the staff won’t have to have their temperature checked when entering the building. But there is still no obligation to return to the office.

Even Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be working from home on Freedom Day, as he too has been asked by the National Health Service to self-isolate for 10 days.


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