Amazon has told staff at its U.S. warehouses and logistics sites that they must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by March if they want to receive paid leave if they contract the virus.
In a Feb. 10 memo to employees obtained by The Epoch Times, the Seattle-headquartered company said workers have until March 18 to get two doses of a COVID vaccine if they want to get paid leave.
However, the retailer’s paid leave change does not impact workers who have received a religious or medical accommodation, the company said.
Unvaccinated employees without such accommodation will be allowed to take one week of unpaid time off for isolation, it said. In January, Amazon reduced its isolation period for employees who test positive for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus to seven days.
Before the announcement, the company’s COVID virus paid leave for self-isolation was up to 10 days. The new isolation time came off the back changes in guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Amazon on Feb. 10 also said it will allow fully vaccinated employees to go maskless inside of its warehouses, starting on Feb. 11, so long as local regulations allow for it.
“Face coverings remain required for anyone entering our U.S. Operations facilities who is not fully vaccinated” as well as for employees who have not updated their vaccinated status on Amazon’s A to Z internal reporting tool, according to the memo.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, an Amazon spokesperson said the company’s latest updates regarding masks are due to a “sharp decline in COVID-19 cases across the country over the past weeks along with increasing vaccination rates across the country.”
“This is a positive sign we can return to the path to normal operations,” the company’s message said, according to the spokesperson.
In December, the company told warehouse employees that they must wear masks, even if they’re fully vaccinated or live in an area where masks aren’t mandated, due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, according to an employee notice obtained by CNBC.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in its weekly update reported a decline in overall COVID-19 cases worldwide.
Cases are down by 17 percent globally in the week between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6 when compared with the previous week, WHO said.
“The prevalence of the Omicron variant has increased globally and is now detected in almost all countries,” the WHO stated in the weekly report.
“However, many of the countries which reported an early rise in the number of cases due to the Omicron variant have now reported a decline in the total number of new cases since the beginning of January 2022.”
The decline in cases has prompted some states in the United States to begin easing mask restrictions.
Update: This article has been updated to include comments received from Amazon.