Walmart announced Friday that vaccinated employees will no longer be required to wear masks at work, multiple news outlets reported, after Amazon and multiple states loosened their own masking rules in response to falling Covid-19 infection rates.
Walmart also reportedly said it will stop offering paid Covid-19 sick leave in March, except when required by local governments, and it will stop giving health screenings to workers beginning their shifts outside of states where it is legally required.
Amazon—another massive U.S. employer—also told its staff in a memo Thursday that vaccinated warehouse workers don’t need to wear masks on the job unless state policies dictate otherwise, CNN and other outlets reported.
Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Amazon, Walmart, Target and other companies reinstituted employee mask requirements in August 2021, in response to the growing prevalence of the coronavirus’ delta variant. However, average daily Covid-19 infections have declined 76% nationwide in the last four weeks, following a January wave driven by the omicron variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walmart’s decision to loosen its employee masking requirements came shortly after California, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Oregon all announced plans to lift statewide mask mandates or school masking rules.
An Axios/Ipsos poll conducted last week found only 21% of U.S. adults want the country to “open up and get back to life as usual with no mandates or requirements.”