Amid COVID surge, Amazon to require masks for warehouse workers regardless of vaccination status

An Amazon employee walks into a fulfillment center in Kent, Washington and is handed a mask by another employee with a pair of pliers before starting a shift in the huge parcel handling warehouse last June. (GeekWire file photo / Kurt Schlosser)

A day after its office workers’ return to a personal environment was postponed until the New Year, Amazon issued new masking guidelines for its warehouse workers as concerns about the spread of COVID-19 variants continue to affect decisions in the workplace.

Amazon on Friday told hundreds of thousands of workers at its fulfillment facilities that regardless of whether or not they received a COVID-19 vaccine, they should return to wearing masks to work.

“In response to the worrying spread of new COVID-19 variants in the US and instructions from health authorities and our own medical experts, we are calling for face coverings indoors regardless of vaccination status,” said Kelly Nantel, Amazon’s national media relations director, in a statement opposite GeekWire.

On Thursday, Amazon announced to its corporate and tech employees that the date they would return to regular office work would now be January 3, 2022, four months above the previous target of the week of September 7.

The tech giant has failed to implement a vaccination mandate for those who work in the office like companies like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have. According to Amazon, office workers are required to wear masks except for those who can show they are fully vaccinated.

More than a year after Amazon turned its warehouses into showcases for the COVID security measures it implemented such as on-site testing, temperature controls, signage, endless hand sanitizer, social distancing cameras, cleaning, and more, Amazon had begun some of these processes to relax.

Natel said the company will continue to “follow instructions from the local government and work closely with leading healthcare professionals.”

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