Amazon.com Inc. is ordering frontline U.S. employees to resume wearing masks at work regardless of vaccination status, joining the ranks of companies ramping up precautions in response to the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant.
The world’s largest online retailer said in a notice to employees on Friday that workers in its warehouses and other logistics depots in the U.S. must resume wearing masks beginning on Monday.
Amazon had been relaxing its Covid-19 safety measures in recent months. Since late May, vaccinated employees could remove their masks at work. The company has dismantled on-site virus testing and temperature checks, and removed some physical barriers and social-distancing enforcement from its warehouses.
In response to the concerning spread of new Covid-19 variants in the U.S. and guidance from public-health authorities and our own medical experts, we are requiring face coverings indoors regardless of vaccination status,” Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said in an emailed statement. “We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to follow local government guidance and work closely with leading medical health care professionals, gathering their advice and recommendations as we go forward to ensure our buildings are optimized for the safety of our teams.”
The new masking mandate does not apply to Amazon’s corporate workforce. Amazon on Thursday pushed back the return-to-office target for those workers to January. The company had previously expected to have employees in the office at least three days a week in September.
Amazon hasn’t mandated vaccines for its workers. The second-largest private employer in the U.S. behind Walmart Inc., the company employs thousands of people in places where vaccination rates are relatively low. Some in Amazon’s warehouses suspect a vaccine requirements would lead employees to quit en masse.