,The surging number of Covid-19 cases is prompting American tech companies like Google to reconsider their back to office plans, with several either pushing back the date or imposing stricter SOP. — AP Photo
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The resurgent coronavirus and return of mask recommendations are hampering corporate America’s plans to get back to normalcy.
Google on Wednesday said that it will push back its official office return to mid-October and require workers at its campuses to get vaccinated. Lyft Inc. postponed its return date to February, while Twitter Inc. shut its recently reopened offices. Apple Inc. is requiring masks at most US stores, and Walt Disney Co. is mandating them at its Florida and California parks.
A jump in Covid-19 cases and a slowdown in vaccinations has left US companies once again struggling with how to adapt to the virus, just as it seemed like shots would allow workers to return to offices and resume pre-pandemic norms.Even for employees who’ve had jabs, the highly transmissible delta variant is raising concerns of breakthrough infections, spread to unvaccinated children and broader disruptions to economic activity.
"It feels like it’s getting a little crazy again,” said Katrina Burch, an assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences at Western Kentucky University and director of the school’s industrial organisational psychology master’s degree program. "It’s really challenging for any organisation to manage and take in this information.”
For some employers, the response has been mandatory vaccinations – a push that’s been growing this week as the state of California and New York City started requiring shots for government workers, with New York state and President Joe Biden considering similar mandates for employees under their jurisdiction.
"We are one of the largest employers here in California and we are trying to show that if we can implement this, other employers can as well,” said Eraina Ortega, director of the California Department of Human Resources, which manages workplace issues for more than 200,000 state employees. "As we see it, vaccination and strict enforcement of masks and screening protocols are all a part of focusing on the health and safety of the workplace, having our economy open and having our schools open.”
Facebook Inc. joined Google on Wednesday in requiring vaccines for workers at its campuses. The Washington Post on Tuesday said that employees will have to show proof of vaccinations when they return to offices in September as a condition of their employment. Netflix Inc. is requiring shots for actors on its U.S. productions.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention this week urged fully vaccinated people to go back to wearing masks indoors in places where infections are rapidly climbing – a list includes areas such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest by population, already reimposed a mask mandate this month.