Walmart & Disney Impose COVID Vaccine Mandates

An employee puts up a price sign at a Walmart store in Chicago, Ill., in 2016. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

Walmart and Disney, two of the largest private employers in the United States, imposed COVID vaccine mandates on their employees Friday.

The superstore’s requirement applies to home-office associates, as well as market, regional, and divisional workers, who have a deadline of October 4 to receive the shot, according to a memo obtained by CNBC.

“We want to get to a place where we can use our offices and be together safely,” Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon wrote in the memo. “It’s important for our business, our culture, our speed and our innovation.”

Disney’s directive applies to all salaried and nonunion hourly employees, who are obligated to get both doses in the next 60 days if they are still unvaccinated, according to a company statement acquired by CNN Business. Staff members still working remotely must show verification of vaccination before they come back to the office.

After the CDC released its mask guidance update Tuesday, Walmart reinstated its mask requirement for workers at its stores, distribution facilities, and warehouses, regardless of vaccination status, in regions of the country with high transmission rates. The CDC direction, which recommended that some vaccinated individuals resume mask-wearing, came in response to the new wave of the COVID Delta variant spreading across the United States.

While the vaccine mandate currently excludes frontline workers, Walmart recently increased the monetary incentive for its non-management-level employees to get inoculated from $75 to $150. The company hopes the managerial vaccinations will encourage the lower-level staff, who make up the bulk of Walmart’s workforce, to follow their example. In May, the company relaxed its mask rules for shoppers and customers, making it optional to wear one.

“We’re hoping that will influence even more of our frontline associates to become vaccinated,” Walmart spokesman Scott Pope told the Associated Press.

Like Walmart’s corporate headquarters and Disney, some sectors and companies have announced vaccinated-only zones in their office buildings, while allowing the unvaccinated to work from home in some cases. Other establishments such as the Houston Methodist hospital system, where workers don’t have the option to transition to a remote setting, have made vaccination a condition of employment, suspending or terminating those who don’t comply.

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