Citi pauses back-to-office plan in Dublin as virus cases soar

Citigroup has paused its plans to bring staff back into their Dublin office after a surge of Covid-19 cases in the Irish capital.

The US lender has told its Dublin-based staff today that it has postponed its back-to-office plans, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Citi had been previously implementing a “phased” return of its staff to its Dublin office.

A Citigroup spokeswoman confirmed the bank has paused its “immediate plans to increase the number of people in the office”.

“We will revisit this decision when it is appropriate to do so,” she added.

The bank has 25% of its London-based employees back in the office currently, the spokeswoman said. And it is preparing to increase the number of staff in its London operation over the coming weeks, according to a 10 September memo from its European boss David Livingstone seen by Financial News.

Citi’s move to halt its back-to-the-office plans comes ahead of possible further Covid-19 restrictions in Dublin, which are expected to be introduced by the Irish government on 18 September in a bid to stem the spread of the virus within the city.

READ: 75% of bankers are scared to return to their desks as pressure mounts to get back to the office

Ireland has already introduced new Covid restrictions for Dublin earlier this week, on 15 September. These included limiting travel outside the city and banning meetings between more than two households. New country-wide restrictions, including limiting social gatherings and pub reopenings, were also introduced on 15 September.

Ireland’s Department of Health confirmed on 16 September that the country had seen 254 new cases of the virus, 136 of which were in Dublin.

The Department declined to comment on the possibility of further restrictions coming into effect in Dublin. “In regards to the level of Covid-19 restrictions in place in Dublin or anywhere else in the country, this is a matter for government decision and announcement. I’m afraid we cannot get ahead of or speculate on any potential decision made by Cabinet,” a spokeswoman said.

It comes as several countries are battling to contain a possible second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Within the UK, the number of new Covid-19 infections reached 3,991 on September 16, pushing the cumulative number of cases to 378,219. The government figures showed the highest daily number of confirmed cases by date reported since May when schools were still shut and the country was only beginning to emerge from lockdown.

The threat of a second wave of the virus has raised potential pitfalls for large banks as they ramp up the return to the office. UK lender Barclays sent some staff home from its London trading floor after two employees tested positive for Covid-19, Financial News reported.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Lucy McNulty

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