More companies announced tighter pandemic restrictions on Friday, as the contagious Delta variant continued to cause a surge in coronavirus cases across the country at a time of rising concerns among workers.
The New York Times Company indefinitely postponed its planned return to the office, and Walmart said that it was reinstating mask requirements for associates in some areas and mandating vaccines for some corporate employees. And starting Monday, the Florida-based grocery chain Publix will require employees to wear masks in all of its stores regardless of their vaccination status.
The decisions added the companies to a growing list of businesses that are changing their return plans, asking employees to wear masks again or requiring vaccinations.
The Washington Post this week said it would require all employees to show they were vaccinated as a condition of employment, Uber said it would require all employees to be vaccinated and delayed its return to the office, and Lyft will not require employees to return to the office until February.
“In light of the evolution of the virus, including new trends around the Delta variant and the updated guidance from the C.D.C. this week on masking, we have decided to push out our plans for a full return at this time,” Meredith Kopit Levien, the chief executive of The New York Times Company, wrote in an email to staff on Friday. The company had been planning for employees to start to return, for at least three days a week, on Sept. 7.
Ms. Levien said that The Times’s offices would be open for those who wanted to go in voluntarily, with a mandatory proof of vaccination.
The company is “not ready to specify a new date for a full reopening,” she wrote, adding that the company would provide employees at least four weeks notice before asking them to return.
Walmart, the nation’s biggest private employer, said the mask requirements would apply in areas of the country with substantial or high transmission rates, and a spokesman said the company recommends that customers wear masks in those areas, too. The retailer is also doubling its reward to employees who get vaccinated from $75 to $150.
The company is also mandating vaccines for employees in its headquarters, as well as managers who travel in the United States, the company’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in a memo on Friday. The mandate does not apply to employees in stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers.
Here’s what some other companies have said about their changing policies: