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New York Stock Exchange traders complain about 'double standard' COVID-19 mandates on the floor - Fox Business

Some floor traders at the New York Stock Exchange are up in arms about the exchange’s new COVID mandates that they say both blindsided them and treats them as second-class citizens inside the Big Board’s lower Manhattan headquarters, FOX Business has learned.

Traders who spoke to FOX Business said that they were not consulted about the new COVID mandates the NYSE announced via an internal memo Wednesday amid a surge in the more contagious delta variant of the virus. Some traders also said NYSE is operating in what was described as a "double standard" in enforcing its new rules that are effective Sept. 13.

Traders and others working on the NYSE’s iconic floor must be vaccinated or, if exempt due to religious or medical reasons, must pass COVID tests that are mandated to be taken three times a week and traders must pay for them out-of-pocket. Most traders on the floor are independent contractors or executives at firms that serve as designated market makers.

TRADERS-ON-NYSE-STOCK-FLOOR

Traders and others working on the NYSE’s iconic floor must be vaccinated and must pass COVID tests that are mandated to be taken three times a week and traders must pay for them out-of-pocket (Nicole Pereira/New York Stock Exchange via AP / AP Newsroom)

But traders said NYSE staff who are working in the exchange’s headquarters in lower Manhattan but do not work directly on the floor will only have to abide by an honor system that they’ve been vaccinated and have tested negative for COVID.

"It totally feels like a double standard," said one trader who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he frequently deals with NYSE officials.

NYSE REQUIRES COVID VACCINATIONS TO ACCESS TRADING FLOOR

An NYSE spokesperson would not deny the differing COVID mandates between floor personnel and others working in its building. The new policy, according to the memo, will pertain to all those with access to the trading floor including employees of member firms, NYSE employees and vendors. 

"This is a policy that pertains to the floor," one NYSE executive said.

Ticker Security Last Change Change % ICE INTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE, INC. 118.04 -0.68 -0.57%

Amid the widespread ramp-up in COVID vaccination, many big companies began demanding their employees return to the office. The NYSE is just the latest major business requiring proof of vaccination status for employees to return to the office amid a nationwide surge in COVID cases, and in some places, increased hospitalizations, particularly among the unvaccinated.

Money management firm BlackRock, and banks like Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, for instance, have imposed vaccination requirements for office entry. JP Morgan, the nation’s largest bank, is demanding that unvaccinated office employees remain socially distant from others and wear a mask except when eating and drinking. Goldman Sachs is asking employees to report vaccination status to the company.

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The responses among employees now returning to the office and facing the mandates have been mixed; some say they'd rather work from home if they will have to wear masks all day and be forced to take frequent COVID tests. The worker response has led to some companies like Amazon and Google delaying requiring employees to return to the office until later in the year.

As of now, exchange officials estimate about 75% of the trading floor is fully vaccinated, which could mean the remaining 25% will either have to get vaccinated or work from home indefinitely, which means we could be seeing fewer people on the NYSE floor than usual.

 The NYSE is just the latest major business requiring proof of vaccination status for employees to return to the office amid a nationwide surge in COVID cases, and in some places, increased hospitalizations, particularly among the unvaccinated. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan / AP Newsroom)

As FOX Business first reported, the NYSE closed to floor to trading and its celebrations of the opening and closing bells in March of last year during the first COVID wave and at a time when city and state officials mandated business lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders to stem the spread of the virus. By May of 2020, the exchange began allowing some traders back on the floor but with strict social distancing requirements as well as requiring masks.

Most floor traders worked remotely through 2020. Even as the exchange began to return to a more normal presence in May of this year with broadcast media returning, as well as the opening and closing bell celebrations, some traders decided not to return to the floor full time.

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The vast majority of the NYSE’s market-making activity is done electronically, but floor traders provide a much-needed service – and can make some money – by providing liquidity in many stocks, particularly during times of volatility.

Some traders who haven’t been vaccinated told FOX Business they would rather forgo the business opportunities the floor provides them because they don’t want to take a vaccine that hasn’t received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The available COVID vaccines are widely available but have been approved only on an emergency basis.

That said, health officials say they show few sides effects and are extremely effective in preventing severe illness from COVID.