Walmart is among the latest corporations to reimplement an employee mask mandate in response to the summer surge of COVID-19 cases across the U.S.
Under the updated policy, employees working in counties deemed at high risk of transmission will be required to wear masks while inside Walmart facilities.
Notably, Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried on Thursday said 66 of Florida’s 67 counties are considered at high risk of transmission.
“We continue to watch with deep concern the developments of the pandemic and the spread of variants, especially the delta variant,” Walmart said in a statement.
The updated policy comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraged even fully vaccinated Americans to wear a mask indoors in high-risk areas.
Walmart will also require vaccinations for corporate staff under the new policy. The move makes Walmart the largest U.S. employer to implement a vaccine mandate, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“It is important that necessary steps are taken to keep ourselves and our communities safe,” Walmart said in the announcement.
Not least, the retail giant announced plans to increase its incentives for inoculated associates.
In addition to three days of paid time off for vaccinated employees who experience symptoms, Walmart said it will raise the incentive amount from $75 to $150 for store associates. Those already inoculated, meanwhile, will receive an additional $75.
Walmart said its employees may also get vaccinated while on the clock.
“As a country, vaccination options have been available for months, but, unfortunately, because so many people have chosen not to receive it, we’ve left ourselves more vulnerable to variants,” the company said in an announcement.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday issued an executive order forbidding school districts from implementing mask mandates in the upcoming school year.