Google has removed some but not all of its requirements surrounding vaccines, testing, social distancing and masks, all first initiated as protections against Covid-19.
Vaccinations will no longer be required as a condition of employment for U.S. Google workers — but vaccine requirements are still in effect for those coming in person to Google sites.
It's another installment in the ongoing tension between those who'd prefer to work in-office and those who hope to retain the freedom of working remotely.
What Google's Doing
According to an email that Google Real Estate and Workplace Services VP David Radcliffe sent earlier this week to the company's San Francisco Bay Area employees, access to fun amenities like massages and fitness centers will open back up to in-office workers.
Google has already delayed its planned hybrid work model that would require employees return to their physical offices for a minimum of three days a week. Radcliffe's email says that Google is still “preparing to begin its 30-day transition period to the hybrid work week if conditions continue to improve” — no date was specified.
Google is keeping a mandate for those meeting in-person on its campuses. Employees or visitors must either be vaccinated, or have the “approved accommodations” in order to access Google's sites.
Apple maintains its vaccine mandate, requiring that anyone visiting its sites must provide proof of full vaccination — including a booster shot. Amazon has no guidance or requirement on vaccine IDs, according to Inquirer, though it makes masks available to those entering its facilities.
States Are Relaxing
Some states and cities are going even farther than tech giants, and pushing to drop mask mandates as well as vaccine mandates.
New York City mayor Eric Adams “can’t wait” to end the city's vaccine mandate at restaurants, while Chicago's mask and vaccine requirements are already set to end on February 28. A Washington state health advisory board voted narrowly this week to reject a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for all school children, as well.
But a small majority of Americans think differently: A recent CBS News-YouGov poll found that 56 percent of respondents believe their states should have mask mandates, compared to 44 percent who say their states should not.
As a new Omicron variant picks up traction around the world, we're likely in for yet another spike in cases. Let's hope more companies keep their protections in place until that spike abates.