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Amazon delays office return to January, but doesn’t require vaccinations

The e-commerce giant joins other big firms in delaying returning to the office as the delta variant spreads and coronavirus infections rise.

The Spheres at Amazon's Seattle headquarters. (David Ryder/For The Washington Post)

SEATTLE — Amazon joined a growing list of large employers delaying the date that workers will return to its offices as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread.

But unlike many of those large employers, Amazon is not requiring workers to be vaccinated.

Amazon told workers in its corporate buildings this morning that they would not need to return to their offices until Jan. 3. The company had previously said they’d need to begin coming in regularly starting Sept. 7.

The delay does not apply to warehouse employees, who have continued to work at their facilities throughout the pandemic.

Google and Facebook to require vaccinations for in-office employees, paving the way for rivals to follow

Although Amazon isn’t mandating vaccinations, it will require office employees who have not verified that they’ve been fully vaccinated to wear masks at work, spokesman Jose Negrete said via email.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The decision not to require vaccinations runs counter to the approach of other tech giants. Last month, Google and Facebook announced that they would require employees who work in their offices to be fully vaccinated. And earlier this week, Microsoft announced plans to fully open its offices Oct. 4 and require workers to prove that they have been vaccinated, after previously saying it would not do so.

Amazon said it would not expect U.S. corporate employees to return to the office until next year because of the surge in COVID-19 cases. (Video: Reuters, Photo: The Washington Post/Reuters)

Amazon, the country’s second-largest employer after Walmart, is one of the biggest employers to delay the return to its offices as far out as it has. Last month, ride-sharing company Lyft told employees that they would need to return to its offices Feb. 2. It also said it would require proof of vaccination.

Amazon’s warehouse staff will continue to stow, pick and pack items at its facilities. The company employs more than 1.3 million workers worldwide, including 950,000 people in the United States, it said in releasing its financial results last week.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

The latest: The CDC has loosened many of its recommendations for battling the coronavirus, a strategic shift that puts more of the onus on individuals, rather than on schools, businesses and other institutions, to limit viral spread.

Variants: BA.5 is the most recent omicron subvariant, and it’s quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S. Here’s what to know about it, and why vaccines may only offer limited protection.

Vaccines: For people under 50, second booster doses are on hold while the Biden administration works to roll out shots specifically targeting the omicron subvariants this fall. Immunizations for children under 5 became available this summer. Here’s what to know about how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections and booster history.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. The omicron variant is behind much of the recent spread.

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