On Wednesday, Google and Facebook became the first major Silicon Valley companies to announce that when employees return to the company’s campuses, they will be required to be vaccinated.
Google (GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees that the policy would be implemented in the United States in the coming weeks and in other regions in the coming months as vaccines become more widely available. It’s unclear how Google intends to implement the policy.
“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,” Pichai said.
According to a statement posted on Twitter (TWTR) by a Facebook spokesperson later Wednesday, Facebook (FB) Vice President of People Lori Goler said that any employees coming to work at the company’s US campuses must be vaccinated.
Facebook plans to 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,” Goler said, according to the statement.
Many businesses are still trying to figure out when and how to safely return employees to the office after nearly 16 months of working from home. Vaccinations are an important part of the equation, especially given the rapid spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant.
Google and Facebook’s announcements come after major medical groups called for mandatory Covid-19 vaccines for health-care workers earlier this week, and ahead of US President Joe Biden’s expected announcement that all federal employees and contractors must be vaccinated or submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements.
Google is the latest tech company to delay its reopening plans. Employees could return to their pre-pandemic office, work out of a Google office in a different city, or work from home permanently if their role allows, after the company’s work-from-home period ended on September 1. Most employees will not be rehired until October 18, according to Pichai’s email.
“We are excited that we’ve started to re-open our campuses and encourage Googlers who feel safe coming to sites that have already opened to continue doing so,” Pichai said. “At the same time, we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office.”
Before transitioning to its full return plans, Google intends to give employees at least 30 days’ notice.
Because of the Delta variant, the internet behemoth isn’t the only Silicon Valley company rethinking its reopening plans. Bloomberg reported last week that Apple would postpone its reopening until at least October, a month later than planned. On Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook confirmed those plans to CNBC.
Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Apple is planning to require customers and employees at more than half of its retail stores to wear masks again, regardless of vaccination status, according to Bloomberg. According to the report, the company has encouraged retail store employees to get vaccinated but does not currently require it.