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Publisher suspends office reopening plan after staff coronavirus ‘spike’

Jim Mullen 1A publisher is to delay reopening its remaining offices after a “spike” in coronavirus cases among staff.

Reach plc has revealed it will not be opening its 15 offices to staff as early as intended in order to examine whether further safety measures needed to be implemented.

Chief executive Jim Mullen, pictured, says the decision has been taken after “data points within the company” showed a rise in cases over the last 30 to 60 days.

The company announced earlier this year it was set to close almost all its offices in the UK and that most of its journalists would permanently work from home in future. However, 15 ‘hub’ offices across the country were retained for staff use.

In a message to staff, which has been seen by HTFP, Mr Mullen said: “Since the beginning of August we’ve seen a steady rise in cases across the UK, and in Scotland, where schools returned earlier, that rise has been particularly stark.

“We have also examined other data points within the company, which have shown a spike in cases over the last 30 to 60 days.

“So we’re going to give ourselves some time to understand the impact, discuss plans with our local leaders and wider teams, and assess whether we need any more safety measures, including testing, in place before we invite people into our hubs in large numbers. In particular, this time will enable us to understand the impact of the English schools returning.

“I know some of you are desperate to get back in, get into meetings and conferences and continue the great progress we’ve made. However, we also have other colleagues who are at high risk or have close family members who are at risk.”

Mr Mullen noted people had been “getting back to as close as possible to a lifestyle that they enjoyed pre-pandemic”.

He added: “But we’ve always said the safety of our people would be our biggest priority and that we need to continue to respond to the ever-changing environment we’re operating in.

“Ultimately it’s my responsibility to ensure we do everything we possibly can to make our workplace as safe an environment as possible. We don’t want to compromise that, contribute to the spread of Covid, or take actions we might need to reverse.

“So we’re not going to be opening our hubs just yet, but I will come back to you before the month is out with the plan for when we are.”

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