Amazon Tells Warehouse Workers to Mask Up Again

A worker fulfills orders at an Amazon fulfillment center
A worker fulfills orders at an Amazon fulfillment center in Raleigh, N.C. (Rachel Jessen/Bloomberg News)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.] Inc. is ordering frontline U.S. employees to resume wearing masks at work regardless of vaccination status, joining the ranks of companies ramping up precautions in response to the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant.

The world’s largest online retailer said in a notice to employees on Aug. 6 that workers in its warehouses and other logistics depots in the U.S. must resume wearing masks beginning Aug. 9.

Amazon had been relaxing its COVID-19 safety measures in recent months. Since late May, vaccinated employees could remove their masks at work. The company has dismantled on-site virus testing and temperature checks, and removed some physical barriers and social-distancing enforcement from its warehouses.

The new masking mandate does not apply to Amazon’s corporate workforce. Amazon on Aug. 5 pushed back the return-to-office target for those workers to January. The company had previously expected to have employees in the office at least three days a week in September.

Amazon hasn’t mandated vaccines for its workers. The second-largest private employer in the U.S. behind Walmart Inc., the company employs thousands of people in places where vaccination rates are relatively low. Some in Amazon’s warehouses suspect a vaccine requirement would lead employees to quit en masse.

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