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Amazon reinstates mask mandate for warehouse employees as omicron threat looms

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The company lifted its mask requirement in November

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon’s warehouse employees across the US will once again have to wear masks, according to an internal notice obtained by CNBC. The company reinstated its mask mandate as the omicron variant continues to spread during Amazon’s busiest time of year.

In the message sent to employees, Amazon said that all warehouse workers must wear masks, regardless of vaccination status or local mask requirements. “Your health and safety are of the utmost importance to us,” the notice read. “In response to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 omicron variant in the US and guidance from public health authorities and our own medical experts, face coverings are again required for everyone.”

Amazon has been changing its stance on mask mandates throughout the year. The company initially stopped requiring facial coverings in May and later revived the mask mandate in August. It briefly lifted its mask mandate in November before reinstating it again starting today.

Companies in the tech industry have been taking very different approaches to COVID-19 safety requirements. While Amazon hasn’t said it will require employees to get vaccinated, Intel and Google have taken things a bit further. Unvaccinated employees at Intel could eventually face unpaid leave, and those still unvaccinated at Google may be put on leave or even fired next year. Just like Amazon, Apple also isn’t requiring employees to be vaccinated and has instead asked unvaccinated employees to take tests more frequently — recently, Apple has closed a number of stores due to COVID-19 outbreaks among employees.

The Verge reached out to Amazon with a request for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.