Two months after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. led Wall Street’s return to the office, it’s taking pages from the pandemic playbooks of its more cautious rivals, requiring employees to don masks and prove they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the firm’s U.S. workplaces.
The more stringent safety measures, announced to staff on Tuesday, signal escalating caution at Goldman, which greeted the return of employees to its New York headquarters in June with live music and food trucks. Masks will be required starting Wednesday regardless of vaccination status, a company spokeswoman said. People who aren’t fully vaccinated by Sept. 7 will be expected to work from home, she said.
The decision means all six U.S. banking giants have now instituted some sort of broad mandate that employees get shots or don masks inside buildings — or in some cases do both. Swiss firm Credit Suisse Group AG also set the same September deadline for U.S. staff to get vaccinated to enter its offices there, a person briefed on its policies said.
The financial industry — and Goldman in particular — was at the vanguard of corporate America’s push to refill office towers this year after 2020’s pandemic lockdowns launched the work-from-home era. The investment bank required employees in U.S. locations including New York to return by mid-June, ahead of its biggest competitors, some of which have yet to set deadlines.
But the spread of the highly infectious delta variant in recent months has pressured Goldman to join other firms in imposing more stringent safety measures. All over Manhattan, there’s been a flurry of internal announcements at financial companies in recent weeks as they try to prevent outbreaks.
People with knowledge of Goldman’s deliberations said earlier this month that the firm had been leaning toward requiring masks in at least part of the bank’s towers. Then, last week, Morgan Stanley doubled down on its reliance on vaccinations, telling employees they would need to prove — rather than just promise — that they’ve had their shots to enter U.S. offices. Notably, Morgan Stanley doesn’t require masks in its New York headquarters, offering some semblance of a pre-pandemic work environment.
Goldman’s mask mandate applies to common areas such as lobbies, elevators, hallways and restrooms, except while seated for eating and drinking. But at certain locations including San Francisco and Washington it also applies while at desks, based on local health guidelines.
Credit Suisse has vowed to be agile in reacting to pandemic developments and health guidance. The Zurich-based bank recently pushed back a plan to return more U.S. staff to offices, setting a new target for mid-October, the person briefed on its decisions said. Business Insider reported the move earlier on Tuesday.
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