Walmart is requiring workers in high risk areas to mask up — and will force all managers to get vaccinated by early October.
The mask mandate was announced Friday and immediately implemented. It applies to all store workers, regardless of vaccination status, in high risk COVID-19 counties, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new policy came three days after the CDC reversed its May mask guidance, calling on all people to wear face coverings indoors in the approximately two-thirds of the country where the deadly virus and its Delta variant are spreading rapidly.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, had told vaccinated workers they could unmask in mid-May, after the CDC’s original edict.
Shoppers will be urged to wear masks in stores, but will not be forced to cover their faces, according to CNBC.
Company officials also said the retailer’s corporate staff and management-level employees must become inoculated against the virus by Oct. 4, according to a company memo obtained by the outlet.
“We want to get to a place where we can use our offices and be together safely,” Chief Executive Doug McMillon reportedly wrote. “It’s important for our business, our culture, our speed and our innovation.”
The company also said it would now pay its store and warehouse staff $150 to get vaccinated — double the previous incentive, according to the report.
Walmart employs 2.3 million people around the world, 1.6 million of them in the US, according to the company.