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Amazon delays office return until 2022 as Covid spreads

Amazon has told its US corporate staff not to return to the office until next year as Covid continues to spread.

The online shopping giant previously asked staff to work from home until 7 September, but will now extend this until 3 January 2022.

It comes as new Covid infections surge across America, with with daily cases at an average not seen in months.

Two US financial institutions, Wells Fargo and Blackrock, also said they would push back their office returns.

“As we continue to closely watch local conditions related to Covid-19, we are adjusting our guidance for corporate employees,” said Amazon.

The online shopping giant’s policy will apply to corporate and tech employees, but not the warehouse and delivery workers who make up the bulk of its workforce.

Staff in the US will be affected but also some based abroad, although Amazon did not specify where.

Wells Fargo branch
Wells Fargo has almost 260,000 staff

Separately, Wells Fargo – the biggest US bank in terms of headcount – said it was delaying its return to the office from 7 September, to 4 October.

The lender, which has almost 260,000 employees, said it would also give staff eight hours of paid time off to enable them to get vaccinated.

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Investment giant Blackrock is postponing the date it expects all staff to be back in the office by a month to 1 October.

“We are following the Delta variant in different parts of the country and closely monitoring the latest guidance from public health officials and local government authorities that encourages people to wear masks in indoor public spaces in areas of substantial or high transmission,” said BlackRock’s chief operating officer, Rob Goldstein, in a memo to staff.

“We know this raises concerns about returning to the office.”

The contagious Delta variant of coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the US, with states such as Florida and Texas seeing high levels of new infections.

Under pressure

A slowing vaccination rate is only adding to the problem, and companies are under pressure to act.

Google, Facebook and Twitter have all said they will delay their returns to the office, with the former two also requiring employees to be vaccinated.

Walmart and Uber, meanwhile, have asked their management, not frontline staff, to get the vaccine, while investment giant Vanguard on Wednesday said it would pay staff who got vaccinated $1,000 (£792).

Amazon, which is not mandating vaccines, said it would continue to follow local government guidance to ensure a safe office return, including asking all unvaccinated staff to wear masks in the workplace.

As previously announced, its corporate employees will also be allowed to work from home two days a week, under a new hybrid model.

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