Amazon revives mask mandate for warehouse workers due to rise in Covid cases
Amazon‘s U.S. warehouse employees will once again be required to wear face masks at work amid a surge in Covid-19 cases due to the highly transmissible omicron variant.
Workers must wear face coverings inside Amazon operations facilities — even if they’re fully vaccinated or live in an area where masks aren’t mandated — according to an employee notice, which was viewed by CNBC.
“Your health and safety are of the utmost importance to us,” the notice said. “In response to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 omicron variant in the U.S. and guidance from public health authorities and our own medical experts, face coverings are again required for everyone.”
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the notice was sent Tuesday to employees.
Amazon is reinstating the mandate in the middle of “peak season” when warehouses are fully staffed with employees working overtime to pick, pack and ship holiday orders.
Major corporations including Amazon have had to continually readjust their Covid safety protocols as the pandemic drags on. Amazon in November lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated warehouse workers after removing and reinstating the mask requirement in warehouses several times in the past year.
Companies’ approach to the virus have shifted yet again as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads, causing coronavirus cases to rise. Omicron is now considered the dominant Covid strain in the country, accounting for 73% of sequenced cases.
Amazon, the second-largest employer in the U.S. behind Walmart, hasn’t mandated vaccines for its workers. Instead, it has nudged employees to get the shot by offering bonuses and running a “Max Your Vax” sweepstakes with awards that include cars, cash awards and vacation packages.