With the Delta variant of COVID-19 driving up infection rates, the CDC has revised its policies, urging even vaccinated people to wear masks while indoors. Cities are updating policies, including New York, which will require proof of vaccinations for workers and guests at restaurants, theaters and gyms. On the other hand, some states are banning vaccination mandates.
In this quickly changing environment, companies are clarifying what’s required for employees and customers. Here’s what major companies are communicating about their COVID-19 vaccinations and mask requirements:
The grocery chain is continuing to follow CDC guidelines, requiring associates to wear masks in stores in areas with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates. It is posting signage at store entrances in these areas to encourage customers to follow the CDC’s mask guidance. Stores will support and follow all local mandates. They continue to offer vaccinations at all pharmacies by appointment or walk-in visits.
Bank of America
Employees are slowly returning to the workplace and the financial institution expects the majority of employees to return after Labor Day. It does not have a vaccine mandate but encourage employees to be vaccinated and to enter their status into a company vaccine portal. Employees in offices are required to wear masks wherever they are unable to easily socially distance such as in elevators, break rooms and restrooms.
All financial center employees are required to wear masks. BofA recommends all clients wear masks, and complies where local ordinances have made this a requirement.
The investment management giant’s vaccination and mask policies have been in effect since June 17. The company required all U.S.-based employees to report their vaccination status by June 30. U.S. locations require employees and visitors to be fully vaccinated to come into the office, where they eased mask and social distancing requirements, while still complying with building landlord policies and CDC and local government guidance. All employees have had the option of remote working. But starting in July, vaccinated employees had the option to return to the office. BlackRock announced in September it would be testing a hybrid approach and later this summer will provide an update on its return to work pilot.
The tech company has required the limited number of employees working in its offices in July and August to be fully vaccinated, and will likely extend such guidances as more people return, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s also anticipating hybrid schedules for all employees, as reported by NBC.
Following CDC guidance, effective July 30, 2021, the health and pharma company is requiring all employees to wear a face mask regardless of location or vaccination status, until further notice. CVS encourages all customers, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a face mask or covering while in any of its stores. It will comply with local and state mandates, and update its mask policy as needed.
CVS has not mandated employee vaccinations. However, it will make adjustments based on guidance from public health officials and their medical professionals. It continues to provide easy access for employee vaccinations and encourage scheduled and walk-in appointments for the public.
Delta Air Lines
Delta has required all new U.S. hires to be vaccinated against COVID-19, effective May 17. It has not mandated company-wide vaccinations for all current employees but 78% of staff members are vaccinated, according to Delta CEO Ed Bastian. He also told CNBC the airline would not require proof of vaccination for domestic travelers.
All major airlines require travelers above the age of two to wear masks.
The social media network requires all U.S. employees returning to offices to be vaccinated, as reported by CNBC. However, it will adapt its policy for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons. In addition, Facebook is requiring all employees at U.S. campuses to wear masks.
As part of the COVID-19 joint task force including the UAW, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, Ford issued the reinstatement of masks for all employees regardless of vaccine status, effective August 4. The car manufacturing giant had already reinstated masks in facilities last week in specific states where cases were significantly increasing.
Based on CDC recommendations, Ford will now require U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated prior to any international business travel due to the potential of increased exposure to the virus. The company continues to strongly encourage all team members who are medically able to get vaccinated.
As part of its ongoing collaboration with the UAW, Ford and Stellantis, GM has updated its safety protocols.
Effective August 4, GM will reinstate mask wearing and physical distancing for all employees and visitors at U.S sites, regardless of vaccination status. In addition, GM’s non-manufacturing business units will limit office occupancy to 50% until conditions improve, consistent with the CDC’s revised guidance.
GM Medical uses the CDC’s COVID tracking data as its primary pandemic assessment tool, and will continue to monitor local laws, employee absentee trends and other data to determine when specific sites can return to optional mask wearing for fully vaccinated employees. Upon GM facility entry where COVID protocols are posted, employees need to self-certify their health status. The company is highly encouraging employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of July 28, Google started requiring vaccines to work on campus and will extend voluntary work from home until October 18. These plans remain in effect.
The Home Depot
Beginning August 2, the home improvements store is requiring all associates, contractors and vendors to wear a mask while indoors at all U.S. Home Depot stores, distribution centers, office locations and customers’ homes or businesses, regardless of vaccination status. Customers are asked to wear masks while in stores and the company will continue to offer masks to those not wearing them.
While not requiring vaccinations, Home Depot continues to strongly encourage all associates to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It offers free resources to cover childcare, transportation and find appointments.
Based on the CDC update, input from associates and its chief medical officer Dr. Marc Watkins, the grocery store chain updated its mask policy to strongly encourage all individuals, including those vaccinated, to wear a mask when in Kroger stores and facilities. Kroger requires unvaccinated associates to wear masks and request that unvaccinated customers wear masks when in their stores and facilities. The company continues to offer associates a $100 one-time payment for receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, and is encouraging customer vaccinations at Kroger.
Because of the increased cases of COVID-19 and the rapid spread of the Delta variant, effective August 2, Lowe’s associates are required to wear masks indoors at all U.S. locations and while working in a customer’s home or business – regardless of vaccination status. Lowe’s will continue to abide by all state and local mask mandates. Stores will have signs encouraging customers to wear masks, and free masks will continue to be available for customers who request them.
In response to the CDC’s guidance, McDonald’s crew and customers will be required to resume wearing masks inside U.S. restaurants in areas with high or substantial transmission, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are always required for customers and crew who are not vaccinated.
The New York Times
In a memo, The New York Times Company CEO Meredith Kopit Levien told employees it is requiring proof of vaccination for voluntary return to the office working arrangements. Levien also told employees that the publication would be pushing back its full office return from September 7, but did not announce a new date, according to NBC.
Since May, the cloud-based software company has only allowed vaccinated employees to return to their offices, extending remote working options until the end of the year, reported NBC.
Through September 13, 2021, all airports and airlines are under a federal mask mandate, requiring all employees and customers traveling on any airline to wear masks in airports and on airplanes.
For the Southwest employees in the corporate campus and support offices, the airline has issued guidance that asks employees (whether vaccinated or unvaccinated) to wear masks indoors while in hallway transit, or in the break rooms/culture centers. When in meetings, masks may be removed if all participants are seated with the recommended physical distance (and to wear masks if not). With remote working, occupancy of the corporate campus buildings averages about 25% daily.
One of the nation’s largest meat producers is requiring its U.S. corporate workforce in offices and the field to be vaccinated. The leadership team must be vaccinated by September 24, other office workers by October 1 and frontline employees by November 1, according to The New York Times.
The company will also provide $200 to frontline team members who are fully vaccinated.
The package and parcel delivery company is not requiring vaccinations but strongly recommends that all employees get fully vaccinated. It is providing resources to help employees find vaccination locations. In facilities, it is following local, state and federal laws, including those of the FAA. It is continuing to evaluate all new guidance from the CDC.
Effective August 1, UPS is requiring employees to wear face masks while indoors in their facilities in states and territories that are designated orange or red on the CDC’s Level of Community Transmission of COVID-19 map.
The retail giant is requiring all market, regional and divisional associates who work in multiple facilities and all campus office associates to be vaccinated by October 4, unless they have an approved exception. This includes all new hires.
The vaccination is free and accessible at all 5,100 Walmart or Sam’s Club pharmacies. Walmart is doubling the incentive payment to get vaccinated, increasing the amount from $75 to $150.
Following CDC guidance, all Walmart employees, including fully vaccinated people, must wear masks in public indoor settings in counties with substantial or high transmission. In these counties and where there are state or local mask mandates, associates will be required to wear masks inside Walmart facilities, including stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers.
This story originally appeared in PRWeek.