TUESDAY, Feb. 15, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Fully vaccinated U.S. workers at Amazon and Walmart will no longer have to wear masks unless local or state laws require them.
Walmart's announcement last Friday to its 1.6 million U.S. workers said masks will still be required for unvaccinated staff and those in its health clinics and pharmacies, CBS News reported.
"Though vaccinated associates are no longer required to wear a mask in our facilities, we support and respect an individual's choice to continue wearing one," the company's memo to employees stated.
Walmart also said its COVID-19 emergency leave policy, which provides more paid sick leave for coronavirus-linked absences will end on March 31, CBS News reported.
In July 2020, Walmart first mandated face coverings, then dropped the rule for fully vaccinated workers in May 2021 before returning to a mask mandate as infections climbed due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
Last week, Amazon also told fully vaccinated employees they can work without a mask depending on local regulations and "based on guidance from public health authorities as well as our own medical experts."
The company also said that as of Friday, only workers who have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine will be entitled to paid leave due to COVID-19, and only those who are fully vaccinated will have access to the benefit as of March 18, CBS News reported.
The two retail giants' mask policy changes come as a number of states scrap mask mandates as Omicron cases and hospitalizations decline.
However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still advises masking in public indoor settings in high-transmission areas, which still includes most of the United States, CBS News reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on masks.