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Two more major Canadian banks are urging most employees to work remotely and pausing broader return-to-office plans amid growing concern about rising COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada both circulated internal memos on Wednesday, encouraging those who can work from home to do so.

CIBC was intending to start bringing employees working remotely back to offices starting in January, but the bank will “pause our plans to return,” according to a memo to leaders at the bank sent by Sandy Sharman, head of people, culture and brand. Even staff who have recently returned to working onsite “are to work remotely for the time being,” she wrote.

Ms. Sharman cited rising COVID-19 case numbers, concerns about the new variant and shifting public-health guidance as reasons for the change, and promised an update in the new year.

Montreal-based National Bank also sent a message to employees on Wednesday asking them to work remotely if they can, as first reported by Bloomberg News. The bank had gradually opened offices to half-capacity, and over the longer term, “We are staying the course with our plan of reopening gradually, with the opportunity to come back on a voluntary basis, and no set date,” spokesperson Marie-Pierre Jodoin said in an e-mail.

Other major financial institutions, including Bank of Nova Scotia and Sun Life Financial Inc., also temporarily halted return-to-office plans this week, reversing a trend in which the number of workers visiting offices was gradually increasing.

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