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Major banks are asking London workers to come home before England lockdown

Major banks are asking London workers to come home before England lockdown

Buildings are seen in Canary Wharf business district, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in London, Britain.
Buildings are seen in Canary Wharf business district, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in London, Britain.

Major banks in London have begun guiding all but necessary staff back to work at home, following the government’s plans for a month-long lockdown in England on Thursday.

The move would be another blow to the City of London and the Canary Wharf financial districts, whose skyscrapers have been virtually empty for much of the year, with local companies having a fraction of their usual footprint.

Several investment banks have allowed more workers to work in their offices in recent months following the first lockdown in March, but the current government intervention has forced them to reverse the policy.

The staff at Deutsche Bank were told in a Sunday memo by Reuters that the company was aiming to “substantially decrease” the number of staff employed at its London office.

The bank said that the majority of workers returning to the office would be asked to work from home, although some would be excluded depending on their position or personal circumstances.

The contents of the memorandum have been confirmed by the spokesperson for Deutsche Bank. Goldman Sachs instructed his workers, in a memo, that only staff designated as in-office staff could join the London office during the lock-up.

The U.S. bank also said that it would close its on-site gym from today, but that its fitness centre and crèche would remain open.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the lockdown for England from Thursday, a move that would possibly cause the economy to shrink again.

City of London leader Catherine McGuinney said that funding will be required for industries such as hospitality and retail to re-open safely after the end of restrictions to help pay for an extension of the government’s furlough scheme until December.

“We encourage policymakers to keep these measures under close scrutiny on the basis of evidence and to map out a roadmap to how parts of the world, including London, will return to the semblance of normalcy,” he said.

Goldman and Deutsche emphasised that only employees identified as necessary could access the workplace and that tougher requirements could be enforced by regulators.

In September, the Financial Conduct Authority claimed that the bankers should have a letter signed by a senior company official indicating that they had been named an essential work in compliance with the requirements laid down by the watchdog.

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