Citi offers Covid tests for London staff as banks roll out back-to-office plans

Citigroup has begun offering Covid-19 tests to around 1,000 London-based employees as part of the US bank’s plans to bring staff back to the office as UK lockdown restrictions are lifted over the summer.

This week, the bank started sending home administered lateral flow Covid-19 tests to employees and contractors who have been regularly visiting its Canary Wharf headquarters in a pilot programme, according to a memo sent by its chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, David Livingstone, seen by Financial News.

Banks are preparing to bring more employees back to the office as the UK government gradually lifts Covid-19 restrictions. By 21 June at the latest, the plan is to lift all legal limits on social interaction, including reopening theatres and nightclubs.

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However, employers need protocols in place to ensure that their employees can return to the office safely, and Citi’s pilot programme for around 1,000 of its around 6,000 London-based staff is aimed at providing an “additional layer of protection for you and your families by preventing, particularly asymptomatic, carriers of the virus entering our premises”, Livingstone wrote in the memo.

“We commenced a lateral flow testing pilot for a limited number of our Canary Wharf staff on Monday 8th March 2021,” said James Bardrick, Citi country officer for the UK in a statement. “This voluntary pilot is being offered to individuals who are unable to work from home and who are already approved to attend our offices. The testing programme aims to provides another layer of protection for colleagues working in the office in addition to our existing controls and measures to protect our people’s health.”

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Those employees selected for the programme will be asked to self-administer the Covid-19 tests every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, even if they do not plan to enter the office. The results of the tests are sent to Citi’s healthcare provider HCA, and confirmation of a negative result will be sent to the employee.

Citi moved to the new system from its previous LiveSafe app on 8 March, and anyone entering the building is now required to show proof of a negative test to security guards in order to gain entry.

The US bank has also started a new testing programme in the US for around 1,000 traders and branch workers. The trial, unveiled by its in-house medical doctor Lori Zimmerman in a blog post, will provide employees with rapid at-home tests that give accurate results in 20 minutes.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Paul Clarke