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ATLANTA — Walmart updated its COVID-19 policy for U.S. associates Friday, dropping its mask mandate and COVID-19 sick leave policy, the company announced in a memo viewed by CNN Business.
The nation's largest private retailer announced the changes as several U.S. states, from New York to California, issued their own plans to lift indoor mask mandates as omicron cases decline.
Fully vaccinated Walmart associates will no longer be required to wear masks unless required by the state or local governments. Unvaccinated employees and those who work in clinical care settings, such as pharmacies, will be required to keep wearing them.
Walmart also is dropping a sick pay policy it had put in place for COVID-19, which gave associates extra paid time off beyond sick leave. The emergency leave policy will end in March, unless required by the state or local government.
The company also is phasing out daily health screenings, except for workers in California, New York and Virginia, where they are a state requirement.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the company's policy change.
After relaxing mask rules for vaccinated employees last spring, the company reinstated them in July as cases from the delta variant rose. It reimplemented mask requirements in December as COVID-19 cases rose amid the omicron variant surge. Walmart, which employs 1.6 million people in the U.S., was one of the first large retailers to start mandating masks in 2020.
Earlier this week, Amazon also announced it was relaxing its mask rules for fully vaccinated employees. It will no longer require masks inside warehouses and restricted COVID-19 paid leave for unvaccinated employees.