Earlier this month, Amazon announced that vaccinated warehouse workers (but not unvaccinated ones) were no longer required to wear masks. Now, the company is making face masks optional at its operations facilities across the US regardless of vaccination status starting today, according to a notice sent to workers seen by CNBC. “[This] is an exciting step in our path to normal operations,” the letter states.
Workers will still have to mask up in states that mandate mask usage at work regardless of vaccination status, including Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington. Other states like California only require unvaccinated individuals to wear masks.
The move comes amid a steep drop in Omicron COVID-19 infections across the US. Amazon confirmed that the notice was real, but told CNBC it still strongly recommends that unvaccinated employees continue to wear masks.
Amazon had previously dropped mask restrictions toward the end of the COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak, but was forced to revive them in December as Omicron began to surge. Unlike Google and other tech companies, Amazon never required vaccinations for workers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance last week allowing around 70 percent of Americans to remove face coverings in areas where COVID-19 hospitalizations were low. However, some medical professionals are still concerned about protection for the elderly, immunocompromised and other vulnerable individuals.