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Starbucks to require all U.S. workers get COVID-19 vaccine or tested

Posted at 2:56 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 16:56:08-05

Starbucks says it will require its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly as of Feb. 9, in keeping with a federal mandate as the omicron variant advances across the country.

Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver told the company's domestic workforce of roughly 220,000 employees that they must disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 10. First detailed in a Dec. 27 letter to employees, the new rules were also reiterated in a weekly update on Monday.

"The vaccine is the best option we have, by far, when it comes to staying safe and slowing the spread of COVID-19," Culver wrote. "It's concerning to see this new variant has pushed daily COVID-19 case counts higher than the Delta wave at its peak."

The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set Feb. 9 as its new date for big employers to require full immunization or weekly testing for the coronavirus.

Under the coffee chain's new policy, Starbucks workers who opt out of vaccination will have to buy their own OSHA-approved tests and submit results every week.

The mandate was previously slated to take effect Jan. 4, but OSHA suspended enforcement of the White House directive pending a court hearing of challenges to the regulation.

A federal appeals court last week ruled that OSHA's standard could move forward, with the Supreme Court expected to hear oral arguments on it on Friday.

Starbucks also updated its policy on how long employees should isolate after contracting COVID-19, adhering to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortening the recommended time.

Omicron has schools, airlines, restaurants and retailers scaling back operations amid a dearth of workers.

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