Food & Bev

Starbucks says all its US employees need to be vaccinated against Covid-19—or get tested weekly

The update follows the fast-spreading omicron variant—and an approaching deadline for Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers.
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· less than 3 min read

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Starbucks is staying ahead of President Biden’s vaccine mandate. The coffee giant will require all of its US workers to be either fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or get weekly tests.

  • All ~220,000 US employees will have to disclose their vaccination status by January 10, COO John Culver wrote in a letter sent to employees in late December (and reiterated yesterday).
  • The decision follows the fast-spreading omicron variant—and as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laid out February 9 as the new deadline for large employers to comply with the federal vaccine-or-test mandate.

“If vaccination rates rise and community spread slows, we will adapt accordingly,” Culver wrote. “But if things get worse, we may have to consider additional measures.”

  • For now, a source told Reuters that the coffee chain is not seeing closures like it did at the start of the pandemic.

Zoom out: The mandate has been a mixed bag within the retail industry. The National Retail Federation is among those that challenged the requirement in court, while companies like Walmart, Saks, and CVS instituted their own vaccine mandates (mostly for corporate employees).

But some experts believe a government-issued policy might make it easier for retailers to carry out policies.

“In contrast to individual companies enforcing vaccine mandates within their company, government-directed vaccine mandates are beneficial in that they take this decision out of the hands of the retailer and, to a certain extent, level the playing field across retailers,” Gautham Vadakkepatt, professor of marketing at the George Mason University School of Business, told Retail Dive in December. “Governments have the burden of ensuring public health.”—JS

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