On Friday, Walmart said that fully vaccinated workers will no longer have to wear masks unless state or local regulations require it. The change is effective immediately, the giant retailer said in a memo to its employees. It further added in its memo that unvaccinated employees should continue to wear masks in their stores and offices as per the regulations.
Walmart said that it has taken this decision after closely monitoring COVID conditions across the country. It came at the end of a week in which Democratic governors from Connecticut to California began lifting statewide masking policies as coronavirus cases, fueled by the Omicron version, were falling rapidly, and it is in line with similar announcements from other companies. on Thursday, Amazon informed its staff that vaccinating workers at warehouses in states that have made masks mandatory can also choose to wear masks.
Walmart has around 1.6 million employees in the United States and was one of the first private employers to mandate its employees to wear masks at the start of the pandemic. The company reduced the requirement for masks for vaccinated workers and shoppers for several months in the spring, before reimposing it for some workers when the Delta version posed a significant threat. Then, in December, as new cases began to rise, the company operated by Omicron again required masks for all employees.
The company also said that a pandemic sick-pay scheme for the past two years to cover COVID-related illnesses will expire on March 31, unless so required by state or local governments. The memo also stated that except in California, New York, and Virginia, daily health checks before each shift would not be necessary for workers.