The masks are back on at Amazon.
Less than eight weeks after the e-commerce giant dropped its mask mandate for workers across its hundreds of US warehouses, the company reinstated it as of Wednesday, according to internal communication shared with media outlets.
The change comes amid a spike in US coronavirus cases brought on by the Omicron variant of the virus, which has become its dominant strain.
Amazon"The health and safety of our employees is of the utmost importance to us," Amazon told its warehouse workers earlier this week. “We hope this will only be required for the winter months and that further into 2022 we can return to our previous face-covering policy, where permitted.”
Until Wednesday, Amazon only required only unvaccinated warehouse staff to wear masks, or those working in locations where local mandates required indoor mask wearing.
"You may choose to wear your own two-layered, reusable and/or disposable cloth face covering, as long as it complies with site safety requirements (e.g. no long scarves, bandanas, or gaiters)" Amazon's email to warehouse workers read, according to engadget "If you do not have one, face coverings will be available for you to wear upon entering the building." The company wrote that it hopes the requirement will only last the winter.
Amazon previously lifted its mask mandate for frontline employees this past May 24, but reinstated it on Aug. 9 amid a rise in COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant.
Amazon hasn’t mandated vaccination for its workers during the pandemic, but has encouraged them via bonuses and other incentives.