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August 3, 2021

Travelers Cos. delays return to office as Delta infections rise

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Property and casualty insurer Travelers Cos. is pushing off plans to recall employees back to its offices in mid-September, citing concerns about the prevalence of more contagious coronavirus strains.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve had no greater priority than the health and safety of our employees,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “In light of the uncertainty surrounding the Delta variant, we’ve decided to delay our formal return to the office plan by at least one month. We’ll continue to monitor developments and guidance from federal and state health officials as we determine the best time for our broader return.”

Travelers, which is headquartered in New York City, has its largest offices in downtown Hartford.

The insurer originally planned to recall workers around or shortly after Labor Day, which had emerged as an informal cutoff date for many companies’ work-from-home options.

Travelers’ new schedule comes as the COVID-19 Delta variant drives a new wave of infections across the country, especially in parts of the South and Midwest, where reluctance to accept vaccines has bogged down mass immunization efforts.

Connecticut, which dropped almost all of its remaining occupancy and masking requirements in May, saw its COVID-19 positivity rate jump from 2.72% on Friday to 3.18% on Monday. A total of 148 people in the state are currently hospitalized with the virus.

While the national COVID-19 death rate remains far lower than its winter peak, the pandemic’s latest turn has prompted several high-profile companies to continue, at least temporarily, the work-from-home model adopted in the spring of 2020. Apple and Google have moved their return dates from September to October, while ride-share service Lyft says its corporate employees will not have to appear in-person for work until February 2022.

Other large tech firms, including Facebook, are allowing all full-time employees to work from home permanently if their job can be performed remotely.


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