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Big tech companies to allow only vaccinated US employees into offices

Big tech companies are making it mandatory for employees in the United States to get COVID-19 vaccinations before entering campuses, as the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus drives a resurgence in cases across regions.

Big tech companies to allow only vaccinated US employees into offices

A sign is pictured outside a Google office near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, on May 8, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Paresh Dave)

NEW YORK: Big tech companies are making it mandatory for employees in the United States to get COVID-19 vaccinations before entering campuses, as the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus drives a resurgence in cases across regions.

Alphabet's Google and Facebook said on Wednesday (Jul 28) all US employees must get vaccinated to step into offices. 

Google will also extend its global work-from-home option through Oct 18, according to chief executive Sundar Pichai.

"Anyone coming to work on our campuses will need to be vaccinated," Pichai said in a blog post.

READ: With easing of workplace COVID-19 rules, firms make adjustments while others take wait-and-see approach

READ: Google delays return to office to September 2021, eyes 'flexible work week': Report

"We're rolling this policy out in the United States in the coming weeks and will expand to other regions in the coming months."

Implementation will be adapted to local conditions, including vaccine availability, according to the Silicon Valley based tech titan.

"I hope these steps will give everyone greater peace of mind as offices reopen," Pichai said.

"Seeing Googlers together in the offices these past few weeks filled me with optimism, and I'm looking forward to brighter days ahead."

Google and Facebook were among companies worldwide that abandoned campuses early last year, letting people work remotely rather than risk exposure to COVID-19 in offices.

Google has been paying the salaries of campus workers unable to do their jobs because of closed offices, and helping employees get access to vaccines, according to Pichai.

READ: Commentary: What if people don’t want to return to the office?

"Even as the virus continues to surge in many parts of the world, it's encouraging to see very high vaccination rates for our Google community in areas where vaccines are widely available," Pichai said.

"This is a big reason why we felt comfortable opening some of our offices to employees who wanted to return early."

Tech titan Facebook put out similar word on Wednesday, saying that as its offices re-open, only vaccinated workers will be welcomed.

"We will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our US campuses to be vaccinated," Facebook vice president of people Lori Goler said in response to an AFP inquiry.

"We will have a process for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons and will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves."

MICROSOFT, UBER EXPECT EMPLOYEES TO RETURN TO OFFICE

According to a Deadline report, streaming giant Netflix has also implemented a policy mandating vaccinations for the cast and crew on all its US productions.

Apple plans to restore its mask requirement policy at most of its US retail stores, both for customers and staff, even if they are vaccinated, Bloomberg News reported.

Apple and Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

READ: Goodbye office: Is the future of work in our homes?

Many tech companies including Microsoft and Uber have said they expect employees to return to office, months after pandemic-induced lockdowns forced them to shift to working from home.

In April, Salesforce said it would allow vaccinated employees to return to some of its offices.

Many unions and critics of mandates have spoken out against required vaccinations, citing personal freedom arguments.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that a vaccine mandate for America's more than two million federal workers was under consideration.

California and New York City announced that official workers would need to get vaccinated or take weekly tests.

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