Amazon Brings Back Masks For Warehouse Workers

Amazon warehouse workers are being required from Wednesday to wear masks at work, as the United States faces a surge in Covid-19 infections.

It is not just America, but the UK and Europe are also witnessing a worrying surge in Coronavirus infections due to the highly infectious omicron variant.

The mask mandate comes after an Amazon distribution centre was recently caught up in the spate of deadly tornados that killed at least 64 people in the US state of Kentucky.

Image credit: Amazon

Mask mandate

A tornado flattened the Amazon warehouse, known as DLI4, located in Edwardsville, Illinois, killing six Amazon employees, injuring another, with 45 people being rescued safely.

Most of the dead were drivers for Amazon, who had rushed back to the warehouse after the tornado warning and took shelter in a men’s toilet.

But Coronavirus is once again presenting a real risk to Amazon workers.

Amazon had lifted its mask mandate earlier in the year but in August brought back its mask requirement for all US staff in its warehouses, amid surging Covid infections in America because of the Delta variant.

Amazon then relaxed its mask mandate in November for fully vaccinated workers, lifting the need for warehouse workers to wear a mask.

But as of Wednesday this week, all of Amazon’s US warehouse employees will once again be required to wear face masks at work, CNBC reported, after viewing a notice sent to staff on Tuesday.

This mask requirement is for all workers, even if they are fully vaccinated or live in an area where masks aren’t mandated.

“Your health and safety are of the utmost importance to us,” the notice reportedly states. “In response to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 omicron variant in the US and guidance from public health authorities and our own medical experts, face coverings are again required for everyone.”

An Amazon spokesperson reportedly confirmed the notice to staff mandating masks at warehouses.

Responsible action

The requirement for Amazon warehouse workers to wear a mask again comes amid its peak period, when warehouses are fully staffed to cope with the Christmas demand, and overtime is heavily utilised.

But businesses are having to react quickly to the changing Covid landscape, as the pandemic nears its second year of impacting the world, during which it has killed at least 5.37 million people.

Amazon has not opted to enforce a vaccine mandate among its staff, unlike others in the tech industry.

Instead, it has encouraged staff to get the vaccine shot by offering bonuses and running a “Max Your Vax” sweepstakes, which featured cars, cash awards and vacation packages as prizes.

In comparison Uber has said all of its US staff have to be vaccinated against Coronavirus before returning to the office.

Facebook and Google also announced they would require their staff to be vaccinated, when they return to offices or campuses.

After some pushback from staff, Google warned staff last week that those who refuse to take the vaccine, would eventually lose their salary and then their jobs.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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