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United States banks tighten COVID-19 precautions as Omicron variant spreads

United States banks have been more proactive than other industries in encouraging employees back to the office, but those plans have come under renewed scrutiny due to the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Most major U.S. banks have had staff working in offices since the summer, but some are now choosing not to host holiday parties and others are strongly recommending staff to get booster shots. The following are the pandemic-related rules among Wall Street’s biggest banks.

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Bank of America Corp (BAC.N)

The bank since late summer has been encouraging employees to get fully vaccinated and now to get their booster shots when eligible. It offers onsite clinics in several locations.

In December, the bank told New York City employees that they could work from home during the holidays and offered them free COVID-19 test kits. read more

Citigroup Inc (C.N)

Citigroup told employees at its New York City office on Wednesday they could work from home if they were able to through the holidays, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. read more

The bank has been requiring employees in the United States to be vaccinated but is not mandating boosters. It is providing rapid test kits and encouraging testing for employees going into the office, a source said earlier. read more

Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE)

The German lender has made COVID-19 boosters available to staff at its new midtown headquarters in New York City since early November, according to a source familiar with the matter. read more

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N)

As infections flared up in August due to the spreading of the Delta variant, the Wall Street bank mandated vaccines for all staff and visitors entering its offices in the United States.

Staff in the United States must be tested onsite on a weekly basis. The bank is also providing access to boosters for those eligible, although boosters are not mandatory. read more

Goldman postponed its remaining holiday parties in New York due to COVID-19 concerns, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The bank had held holiday parties over the previous few weeks. read more

Jefferies (JEF.N)

The investment bank requires all staff who want to enter its offices to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and has said it will require boosters by Jan. 31, unless the person concerned is not yet eligible for the additional shot. The bank does not perform onsite testing.

Last week, following a spate of cases, the bank asked staff to work from home where possible and canceled all but essential travel.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N)

The biggest U.S. bank, which has been one of the most aggressive in bringing employees back to the office, mandated face coverings for its U.S. employees in August, saying they would be required to wear masks in public indoor settings and in common areas regardless of vaccination status. read more

The bank in October said that it would restrict business travel for employees who are unvaccinated or have not disclosed their vaccination status. Such employees are required to get tested twice a week and contribute more of their pay toward medical insurance. It also mandated vaccines for new recruits in client-facing roles. read more

In December, JPMorgan instructed unvaccinated staff in Manhattan to work from home. It also relaxed mask requirements for vaccinated staff working in its Manhattan offices. And, it told managers that they should evaluate more often “who should revert to working from home.” read more

Morgan Stanley (MS.N)

Morgan Stanley is asking employees, contractors and visitors to show proof of vaccination before entering its New York headquarters. The bank does not require additional COVID-19 testing for staff or visitors, a spokesperson said.

The bank expects staff who are not required to be in the office to take advantage of the ability to work from home and to spend more time with their families. But it is not sending staff home and does not have a work-from-home policy, a source familiar with the situation said. read more

Wells Fargo & Co

The lender has said it strongly encourages employees to consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine but does not require it. The bank was providing all employees with four hours of paid leave to get the booster shot if eligible. read more

The bank also required employees to either document that they are fully vaccinated or get tested regularly.

Fidelity Investments

The company said it had paused its voluntary return-to-office plans in New England, citing a rising risk from the COVID-19 pandemic. read more

Sources: Company statements, memos, sources

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and Elizabeth Dilts Marshall and David Henry in New York; Editing by Stephen Coates

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