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Google will require vaccinations for employees returning to the office

Jul 28, 2021, 1:27 PM | Updated: 2:26 pm
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A person wearing a protective masks runs past a Google campus in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Silicon Valley has the lowest office vacancy rate in the U.S., even as technology companies embrace remote work. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (CNN) — Google on Wednesday became one of the first major Silicon Valley firms to say it will require employees to be vaccinated when they return to the company’s campuses.

In an email to staff, CEO Sundar Pichai said the policy would roll out in the United States in the coming weeks, and in other regions in the following months as vaccines become more widely available. It’s not clear how Google plans to enforce the policy.

“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,” Pichai said.

Many companies are still trying to figure out exactly when and how to bring employees back to the office safely after nearly 16 months of having them work from home. And with the rapid spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant, vaccinations are an important part of the equation.

Google’s announcement follows a call earlier this week by major medical groups to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for health care workers, and comes ahead of an expected announcement by US President Joe Biden that all federal employees and contractors must be vaccinated or submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements.

Google is also the latest tech company to push back the timing of its reopening plans. The company had planned to end its work-from-home period on September 1, after which employees could choose to return to their pre-pandemic office, work out of a Google office in a different city or permanently work from home if their role allows. Now it will wait to bring most employees back until October 18, Pichai said in the 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.”

Google plans to give employees at least 30 days notice before the company transitions to its full return plans.

The internet giant isn’t the only Silicon Valley firm changing its reopening plans because of the Delta variant. Last week, Bloomberg reported that Apple would delay its reopening until at least October, a month later than initially planned. CEO Tim Cook confirmed those plans to CNBC on Tuesday.

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