Walmart and Walt Disney, two of the largest companies in the United States, will require their employees to get COVID-19 vaccines or be fired.
According to The Associated Press, Walmart mandates vaccines for all workers at its headquarters in Arkansas and its managers who travel within the U.S. by Oct. 4.
The retailer will also reverse its mask policy for its employees working in stores, clubs, distribution facilities, and warehouses. Accordingly, they will be required to wear masks in areas with high infection rates, even if they have been vaccinated.
The move is part of sweeping measures that the U.S. largest retailer announced on Friday, July 30, to help curb the spread of COVID-19, citing its Delta variant as a reason for its policy shift.
“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 in a media release.
Walmart asked those who are not vaccinated to “begin the process soon.” The company will exclude the mandate for frontline workers, saying they have a lower vaccination rate than management. It is expected that managerial employees getting the jab will inspire frontline workers to follow suit.
“We’re hoping that will influence even more of our frontline associates to become vaccinated,” Walmart spokesman Scott Pope said.
In a separate media release on Friday, Walmart also announced that it would bring back its in-store employee mask mandate.
Besides Walmart, Walt Disney also decided that vaccine status will become a condition of employment.
Disney’s new measure will force every one of 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, July 30.
Newly hired employees will be required to prove their vaccination status before starting their jobs with the company.
“Employees who aren’t already vaccinated and are working on-site will have 60 days from today to complete their protocols and any employees still working from home will need to provide verification of vaccination prior to their return, with certain limited exceptions,” according to the company’s statement.
“Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees,” Disney said.
Walmart and Disney made their decision several days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its earlier guidance, now instructing that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks as the Delta variant of COVID-19 is fueling infection surges. The CDC also asked the unvaccinated people to “get vaccinated & mask until you do.”