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Google won’t fire or suspend unvaccinated employees, but they need approval to visit the office

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It is relaxing COVID-19 policies for campus amenities

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google is no longer requiring its US-based workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to CNBC. “We’re not enforcing vaccination requirements as a condition of employment for US office workers at this time,” Google spokesperson Lora Lee Erickson said in a statement to The Verge after we first published this article. “We’re continuing to implement our vaccination policy requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or approved accommodations for any individuals accessing our sites, because it’s one of the most important ways we can keep our workforce safe and keep our services running.”

However, a policy that requires staffers to be vaccinated to return to the office is still in effect. “Google’s original vaccination policy announced last July remains in place, which requires COVID-19 vaccinations or approved accommodations for anyone accessing our sites,” according to Erickson. In addition, only employees at Google’s Santa Clara County facilities will have to wear masks in the office, Erickson says.

CNBC also shared details from a memo sent to staff by David Radcliffe, Google’s VP of real estate and workplace services. Google is lifting a policy that required anyone entering a Google facility, even vaccinated staffers, to have a negative COVID-19 molecular test.

However, “unvaccinated employees who are approved to enter offices will still need to follow additional protocols, including testing and wearing a mask, Radcliffe’s note stated,” according to CNBC.

Google is also relaxing policies over some of its famed amenities, CNBC reports:

Radcliffe also wrote that the company is reopening amenities like fitness centers without appointment and massages; restoring full shuttle service; adding more places to eat free breakfast and lunch; and opening “all informal spaces” such as lounges, game rooms, music rooms, and massage chairs.

The company said in December that would wait until 2022 to determine its return-to-office plans. When employees are expected to return in-person, Google has already committed to giving them a 30-day heads up. The company has also already outlined plans for a hybrid work week where it will expect most employees to be in the office three days per week.

Apple has also begun to relax its COVID-19 policies, as it has dropped mask requirements for customers shopping at its Apple retail stores in several states. Apple may drop the mandate for retail employees to wear masks as well “in as early as two weeks,” according to a tweet from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

Update February 24th, 12:59PM ET: Added additional information from Google.