US

Walmart orders staff in Delta hotspots to wear masks while Disney to require staff to get vaccinated

Walmart is requiring that all workers at its headquarters as well as its managers who travel within the U.S. be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 4.

The world’s biggest retailer based in Bentonville, Arkansas, is also reversing its mask policy for its employees working in stores, clubs, distribution facilities and warehouses. Going forward, they will be required to wear masks in areas with high infection rates, even if they have been vaccinated.

The moves are part of a series of sweeping measures the nation’s largest retailer and private employer announced on Friday to help curb the spread of the virus and drive more of its workers to get the shot in the arm.  

Given Walmart’s outsized influence on the economy, more companies could make similar announcements in the coming days.

Walmart Inc has made it mandatory for its retail workers in COVID-19 hotspots to wear masks and said it required its corporate staff to be vaccinated against virus

In fact, following Walmart’s announcement, the Walt Disney Co. said Friday it’s requiring all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of its sites to be fully vaccinated. 

It said workers who aren’t already vaccinated and are working on site will have 60 days from Friday to complete their protocols. Those who are still working from home will need to provide verification of vaccination before their return.

Disney also said that all new hires will be required to be fully vaccinated before starting employment.

‘Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees,’ Disney said in a statement. Disney has about 200,000 employees but it is unclear how many of them are affected.

As for its stores and theme parks there will be mandated mask requirements beginning July 30 for all guests while indoors regardless of their vaccination status. 

Grocery chain Kroger announced Friday that it will be encouraging all customers, workers and suppliers, including those who received the shot, to wear masks at its stores. But the company said it will not be issuing a vaccine mandate for its employees. 

Disney is also to require salaried and nonunion employees in U.S. to be fully vaccinated within the 60 days. The Magic Kingdom in Orlando is pictured from December 2020

Disney is also to require salaried and nonunion employees in U.S. to be fully vaccinated within the 60 days. The Magic Kingdom in Orlando is pictured from December 2020

In Florida, Publix, the state’s largest supermarket chain, announced Friday that employees will again be required to wear masks as several hospitals said they are postponing elective surgeries and limiting visitors. 

On Thursday the tech giant Apple reinstituted a mask requirement for shoppers and staff at most of its U.S. retail locations.   

In terms of the world’s biggest retailer, Walmart’s vaccine mandate excludes frontline workers, who the company says have a lower vaccination rate than management. But it’s hoping that managerial employees, who represent just a fraction of its 1.5 million workers, will serve as inspiration.

Publix supermarket chain ended mask requirements for fully vaccinated shoppers and store employees on May 15 but workers are now once again required to wear masks

Publix supermarket chain ended mask requirements for fully vaccinated shoppers and store employees on May 15 but workers are now once again required to wear masks

‘We’re hoping that will influence even more of our frontline associates to become vaccinated,’ Walmart spokesman Scott Pope said.

Pope declined to break out the vaccination rate for frontline workers and the rest of Walmart’s employees.

Walmart is also encouraging customers to wear masks in stores located in areas with surging cases and will be adding back signs at the entrances. It will also bring back so-called health ambassadors who will be stationed at the entrances and hand out masks.

The company is also doubling to $150 the incentive it is offering to workers in stores, clubs, as well as other facilities like distribution centers, to get the vaccine. Those who already received the $75 incentive will receive another $75 in their paycheck dated August 19.

On Thursday the tech giant Apple reinstituted a mask requirement for shoppers and staff at most of its U.S. retail locations

On Thursday the tech giant Apple reinstituted a mask requirement for shoppers and staff at most of its U.S. retail locations

The steps come three days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges.

Walmart’s move to require vaccinations of its workers at its headquarters follows Google’s steps announced earlier in the week that it’s postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened. 

In officers, Google’s announcement was shortly followed by Facebook, which also said it will make vaccines mandatory for U.S. employees who work in offices. Exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons.

Various government agencies already have announced demands for all their employees to be vaccinated, but the corporate world so far has been taking a more cautious approach, even though most lawyers believe the mandates are legal.

Delta and United Airlines are also requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination

Delta and United Airlines are also requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination

Delta and United Airlines are also requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination. 

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are requiring their workers to disclose their vaccination status, but are not requiring staffers to be vaccinated.

Ken Perkins, president of the retail research firm Retail Metrics, said that Walmart’s move could serve as a ‘green light’ to other companies to require vaccines, given its massive following and its location.

‘It’s based in the middle of the country,’ Perkins said. ‘They speak to the lower-, middle-income shoppers and workers.’

Walmart’s dramatically shifting policy reflects the growing worry about the rising infection rates.

‘We continue to watch with deep concern the developments of the pandemic and the spread of variants, especially the delta variant,’ wrote Donna Morris, Walmart’s chief people officer, in the memo circulated to employees that was shared by the company. ‘We know vaccinations are our solution to drive change. We are urging you to get vaccinated and want to see many more of you vaccinated.’

In a separate memo sent to employees who work at the company headquarters, Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc., wrote, ‘The virus is not over, and the delta variant has led to an increase in infection rates across much of the U.S.’

The retailer has seen a ‘positive response’ to the first financial incentive and is anticipating the sweetened perk will drive a similar response from workers, Pope said.

He stopped short of saying that office workers who declined to be vaccinated would be terminated but said that Walmart is working through the process. He noted that the exceptions would be those who can’t get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.

Google on Wednesday informed its more than 130,000 employees that they would all be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to the office in mid-October. The image above shows Google's Mountain View, California headquarters

Google on Wednesday informed its more than 130,000 employees that they would all be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to the office in mid-October. The image above shows Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters

Facebook will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to the office

Facebook will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to the office

When asked why frontline workers won’t be required to get the vaccine, Pope said that its approach with its large number of workers in frontline facilities has been ‘to inform them, encourage them, make it easy and to reward then financially for choosing to receive the vaccine.’

Walmart said it is also implementing a new process for verification of vaccine status for U.S. workers. It says it will share those details in the future.

A few days after the CDC eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people back in May, Walmart, along with a slew of other retailers, said it wouldn’t require vaccinated shoppers to wear a mask in U.S. stores, unless state or local laws said otherwise. Walmart also said that vaccinated workers could go maskless.

At that time, Walmart said that customers wouldn’t be asked but rather held to an ‘honor system’ regarding their vaccination status. Walmart workers who didn’t wear masks also had to confirm they were vaccinated by filling out a daily questionnaire, though it was not requiring proof.

MASK RULES FOR AMERICA’S BIGGEST NAMES  

The 15 largest retailers in the U.S. as ranked by the National Retail Federation (NRF) based on sales

1.) Walmart 

U.S. stores: 5,355 (including Sam’s Club)

Employees: 1.5 million in the U.S. 

The nation’s biggest retailer said July 30 that it is reimposing a mask rule for employees at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in areas rated by the CDC to be at substantial or high risk for COVID-19. The company ended face-covering requirements for fully vaccinated customers in May and said it will continue to encourage but not mandate that shoppers mask up. Walmart triggered a wave of retailers implementing mask rules when it did so in July 2020. 

Walmart reimposed face mask requirements for employees in areas of the United States with high rates of Covid-19 transmission

Walmart reimposed face mask requirements for employees in areas of the United States with high rates of Covid-19 transmission

2.) Amazon / Whole Foods Market

U.S. stores: 564

Employees: 1,298,000 with 91,000 at Whole Foods

Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market ended its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers on May 19. Inoculated store employees can also go mask-free. ‘Unvaccinated customers are asked to continue to wear masks,’ the grocery chain states on its COVID-19 response page.

Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market ended its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers on May 19. Inoculated store employees can also go mask-free

Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market ended its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers on May 19. Inoculated store employees can also go mask-free

3.) Kroger

U.S. stores: 3,003

Employees: 453,000

The country’s largest supermarket company, which includes Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer and other chains announced Friday that it will be encouraging all customers, workers and suppliers, including those who received the shot, to wear masks at its stores having initially lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers on May 20. Face coverings are still required for employees who are not inoculated or who work in in-store pharmacies and clinics. 

The country's largest supermarket company, which includes Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer and other chains, lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers May 20

The country’s largest supermarket company, which includes Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer and other chains, lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers May 20

4.) Costco

U.S. stores: 542

Employees: 214,000

‘Costco locations will follow the face mask regulations of the applicable state and local jurisdictions,’ the company says on its coronavirus updates page. The members-only warehouse club dropped its face-covering requirement in May, a year after it became the first major national retailer to institute a mask rule.

The members-only warehouse club dropped its face-covering requirement in May, a year after it became the first major national retailer to institute a mask rule

The members-only warehouse club dropped its face-covering requirement in May, a year after it became the first major national retailer to institute a mask rule

5.) Walgreens

U.S. stores: 9,168

Employees: 450,000

The nation’s biggest drugstore chain dropped its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers May 19. 

The nation's biggest drugstore chain dropped its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers May 19

The nation’s biggest drugstore chain dropped its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers May 19

 6.) Home Depot

U.S. stores: 1,973

Employees: 500,000+

Fully vaccinated shoppers and staff are not required to wear facial coverings. Unvaccinated customers and associates are recommended to wear a mask or face covering. 

Fully vaccinated shoppers and staff are not required to wear facial coverings. Unvaccinated customers and associates are recommended to wear a mask or face covering

Fully vaccinated shoppers and staff are not required to wear facial coverings. Unvaccinated customers and associates are recommended to wear a mask or face covering

7.) CVS

U.S. stores: 9,909

Employees: 203,000

The drugstore chain dropped mask rules for fully vaccinated patrons in May but face coverings are required for employees and customers who are not fully vaccinated. 

The drugstore chain dropped mask rules for fully vaccinated patrons in May but face coverings are required for employees and customers who are not fully vaccinated

8.) Target

U.S. stores: 1,868

Employees: 368,000 

Target does not require fully vaccinated customers and staff to wear face coverings in stores, except where it’s required by local law. Face coverings are recommended for those who are not fully vaccinated.

Target does not require fully vaccinated customers and staff to wear face coverings in stores, except where it's required by local law. Face coverings are recommended for those who are not fully vaccinated

Target does not require fully vaccinated customers and staff to wear face coverings in stores, except where it’s required by local law. Face coverings are recommended for those who are not fully vaccinated

9.) Lowe’s 

U.S. stores: 1,727

Employees: 220,000

In an update to its page on COVID-19 protective measures, the home improvement chain announced May 19 that it has revised its mask policy to ‘align with the CDC’s new guidance unless required differently by state or local requirements.’

The home improvement chain announced May 19 that it has revised its mask policy to 'align with the CDC's new guidance unless required differently by state or local requirements.'

The home improvement chain announced May 19 that it has revised its mask policy to ‘align with the CDC’s new guidance unless required differently by state or local requirements.’

10.) Albertsons

U.S. stores: 2,258

Employees: 325,000

The parent company of Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco and other grocery chains implemented a mask rule across all its properties in July 2020. When Texas lifted its state mask mandate in March, the company said the requirement would stay in place in its stores there, stating that it would ‘continue to look to the CDC’s recommendations to determine our safety practices.’ 

11.) Apple Store

U.S. stores: 271

Employees: 147,000

The tech giant reinstated a mask requirement for shoppers and staff at most of its U.S. retail outlets July 29. Apple’s states that the company ‘follows local mandates and the CDC’s strong recommendation for masking indoors.’ 

The tech giant reinstated a mask requirement for shoppers and staff at most of its U.S. retail outlets July 29

The tech giant reinstated a mask requirement for shoppers and staff at most of its U.S. retail outlets July 29

13.) McDonald’s

U.S. stores: 13,846

Employees: 210,000

The fast-food chain amended its mask policy May 21. The company said that masks are now optional for fully vaccinated customers but still required for restaurant crews.

The company said that masks are now optional for fully vaccinated customers but still required for restaurant crews

The company said that masks are now optional for fully vaccinated customers but still required for restaurant crews

14.) Best Buy

U.S. stores: 995

Employees: 100,000

The big-box electronics chain eliminated face-covering requirements for fully vaccinated customers and employees on May 18 but said it will continue to make masks available to any shopper or staffer who wants one.

The big-box electronics chain eliminated face-covering requirements for fully vaccinated customers and employees on May 18 but said it will continue to make masks available to any shopper or staffer who wants one

The big-box electronics chain eliminated face-covering requirements for fully vaccinated customers and employees on May 18 but said it will continue to make masks available to any shopper or staffer who wants one

15.) Publix

U.S. stores: 1,479

Employees: 225,000

The supermarket chain ended mask requirements for fully vaccinated shoppers and store employees on May 15 but workers are now once again required to wear masks.  

The supermarket chain ended mask requirements for fully vaccinated shoppers and store employees on May 15 but workers are now once again required to wear masks

The supermarket chain ended mask requirements for fully vaccinated shoppers and store employees on May 15 but workers are now once again required to wear masks


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button