Reports: Amazon, Walmart No Longer Requiring Masks for Vaccinated Employees
Walmart and Amazon.com both said last week that it will not will no longer require vaccinated employees to wear masks while working in their facilities. In an internal memo to employees, Amazon said vaccinated employees in the U.S. have the option to work without masks beginning Feb. 11 where permitted by local regulations, Reuters reported last week. Amazon also informed staff at its U.S. warehouses and logistics sites that they must report being fully vaccinated by March 18 if they wish to receive paid leave due to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Walmart informed staff on Feb. 11 through an internal memo that fully vaccinated workers in the U.S. will no longer be required to wear masks in the company's facilities, effective immediately, unless required by a state or local mandate, Reuters reported. Employees who work in clinical care settings like health clinics and pharmacies, with direct customer contact, will be required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, the memo said. Walmart is also dropping its daily health screening — except in states where required — and set an expiration date of March 31 for its emergency COVID-19 leave policy.
Total Retail's Take: Depending upon who you speak with, this could be good news or bad news. While the retail industry in general is hoping that unmasked employees may bring more shoppers into stores, customers and workers may feel otherwise. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people wear masks in areas of high transmission. But regardless, both companies believe it's indeed the right move to eliminate mask mandates. In fact, according to Reuters, Amazon.com attributed its policy updates to a recent decline in coronavirus cases across the U.S., increasing rates of vaccination, and guidance from its medical experts and public health authorities. "This is a positive sign we can return to the path to normal operations," the company's memo said.