Two of the country’s largest employers have announced that will require their employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be fired.
The Associated Press, via MarketWatch, reported that Walmart and the Walt Disney Company have decided that vaccine status will become a condition of employment, ignoring that many employees might already have COVID antibodies obtained through natural infections.
Walmart will not require each and every one of its estimated 1.5 million U.S. employees to receive the vaccine. However, those working for Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, will all be required to get vaccinated by Oct. 4.
Additionally, Walmart supervisors who travel must get vaccinated by October. The company cited the Delta variant of the coronavirus as the reason for its policy shift in a Friday media release.
“As we all know, the pandemic is not over, and the Delta variant has led to an increase in infection rates across much of the U.S. Given this, we have made the decision to require all market, regional and divisional associates who work in multiple facilities and all campus office associates to be vaccinated by Oct. 4, unless they have an approved exception,” the company said. “This includes all new hires.”
Walmart asked those who are not vaccinated to “begin the process soon.”
In a separate media release on Friday, Walmart announced that it is bringing back its in-store employee mask mandate.
In a memo addressed to employees at all U.S. stores, the company cited recent and questionable recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issued advice in favor of wearing masks, even for those who are vaccinated.
“This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidance regarding wearing masks due to the concerning levels of transmission of the Delta variant of the coronavirus,” Walmart told associates.
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“We remain focused on guidance issued by health experts, including the CDC, as well as state and local health departments. We will continue to follow the latest CDC guidance, which includes fully vaccinated people wearing masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission, effective immediately.”
“[Walmart] will follow CDC guidance, which includes fully vaccinated people wearing masks in public indoor settings in counties with substantial or high transmission,” the company said.
“In these counties and where there are state or local mask mandates, associates will be required to wear masks inside our facilities, including stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers.”
Walmart is also said it is working on a “process for verification of vaccine status for U.S. associates,” but offered no additional details or a timetable for when employees will be forced to carry or obtain the vaccine passports.
“Throughout the pandemic we have focused on the health and well-being of our associates,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in the memo to employees. “We believe we have an important role to play and believe the requirement for vaccinations for our leaders is key to driving toward an end to this pandemic. Let’s set the example.”
McMillon also said that the company will “identify new ways of working together on the other side of this virus, but we have to fight the virus, all of us, to get there.”
Disney, meanwhile, will force each and every one of its its salaried and hourly employees in the U.S. to get vaccinated within 60 days, presumably if they want to keep their jobs, the company told CNN Business on Friday.
New hires will not be able to start their jobs with the company until they prove their vaccination status.
Disney’s vaccine mandate does not apply to union workers.