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Amazon dropping mask requirement for vaccinated workers at warehouses

Workers also will now need to be vaccinated to get COVID-related paid leave.

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Vaccinated Amazon employees can now work in warehouses without a mask.
Getty

Amazon will allow fully vaccinated employees to go maskless inside its warehouses and will no longer provide COVID-related paid leave for workers who don't get their shots, according to a memo sent to employees.

The changes, earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal, apply only to US facilities and come after several states lifted indoor mask mandates this week.

Amazon's new masking policy change was set to go into effect on Friday. The company began to require all of its employees to wear masks in December due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus's omicron variant. Previously, the company had only required unvaccinated workers to wear masks.

Under the new leave policy, workers have until March 18 to get two doses of the vaccine in order to receive paid time off. Last month, Amazon reduced its isolation period for workers who test positive for COVID to seven days.

In its memo, Amazon cited the "sharp decline" in COVID cases over the past several weeks, along with increasing vaccination rates.

"This is a positive sign we can return to the path to normal operations," the memo reads.

Officials for Amazon provided a copy of the memo, but declined further comment.

Officials in several states this week announced plans to roll back mask mandates or policies that require proof of vaccination for certain activities. The changes run counter to current recommendations from the CDC.

Amazon employs about a million workers in the US, most at its hundreds of warehouses. Unlike other tech companies like MicrosoftFacebook and Google, it's avoided requiring vaccines for its workers as it races to hire enough staff to operate its growing network of e-commerce fulfillment sites.

To encourage higher vaccination rates, Amazon has offered the chance to win cash and cars in lotteries for vaccinated employees. The company is also paying workers bonuses for getting vaccinated and hosting on-site vaccination clinics.