In the US, large companies are armored to face the omicron variant

New York, United States | AFP | Faced with the rapid spread of the omicron variant, large US companies are forced to strengthen their anticovid arsenal and delay the return to face-to-face work.

Among the toughest groups is Google, which at the beginning of the month notified its employees that it will not pay them or that they may even be fired if they do not declare their vaccination status beyond a certain date, according to an internal document accessed by CNBC .

“We are convinced that our vaccination requirements are one of the most important ways of keeping our staff safe and our services running,” a Google spokesman told AFP.

“We are committed to doing everything in our power to help our employees get vaccinated,” he added.

The search giant also indefinitely postponed the return to the office of its engineers and developers, initially scheduled for January.

For its part, Meta (Facebook’s parent company) offers its employees the possibility of choosing the workplace that best suits their needs.

Amazon, which had suggested returning to face-to-face work at least three days a week since early 2022, is expected to make further announcements in January, a company spokesman told AFP.

Warehouse employees and vehicle drivers will not be affected.

Apple reinstated the mandatory use of masks in all its stores in the United States after making it optional in November in a hundred points of sale.

It also temporarily closed stores in Florida and Maryland this week, as well as in the Canadian province of Ontario.

– Wall Street on the defensive –
Wall Street seeks for its part to adapt to the increase in infections.

On Tuesday, JPMorgan limited access to nine of its buildings in Manhattan to those vaccinated, who are not required to wear masks indoors.

“We took this measure because vaccination rates are very high among our employees,” the bank said in an internal note seen by AFP.

Unvaccinated employees must work from their homes.

Other big names in American finance, such as Citigroup or Morgan Stanley, are encouraging their employees to work from home as much as possible in the coming weeks.

The supermarket sector is also taking steps to tackle the risk of a wave of customers looking to fill their cupboards in the face of possible new restrictions.

The Kroger chain, for example, will suspend the payment of the special leave for covid to the unvaccinated employees, said several American media.

Those who haven’t been vaccinated will also have to pay a $ 50 premium starting in January to stay on company health insurance.

– Widespread teleworking? –
President Joe Biden wants to impose mandatory vaccination in companies with more than 100 employees, but that measure is the subject of a legal battle.

A federal court restored the president’s decree on Friday, which had been suspended by another court.

According to a study conducted at the end of November by insurance broker Willis Towers Watson, 57% of American employers already require vaccination of their employees or are considering making it mandatory.

“Employers can encourage vaccination and booster doses by adjusting hours and days off, encouraging frequent screenings, and requiring the use of a mask in the workplace to ensure health and safety,” says Jeff Levin- Scherz of Willis Towers Watson.

As of December 8, occupancy rates in offices in major cities barely reached 40%, according to a weekly measurement by security systems specialist Kastle based on data from 10 urban areas across the country.

In March 2020 it was around 95%, before the first containment measures.

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