"Due to waning efficacy of the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines and the emergence of highly transmissible variants such as omicron, a booster shot is now part of staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination to protect against severe disease," the tech giant stated in an internal memo.
Apple employees who don't get booster shots within a month of becoming eligible will be required to have rapid antigen tests before entering their workplaces starting February 15.
Workers who are unvaccinated or haven't given proof of vaccination must produce negative COVID test results beginning January 24, the memo stated. It was not clear whether this testing requirement will apply to both corporate and retail employees.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
United States employers are currently dealing with a rise in cases of the omicron variant as many workers get ready to return to offices after almost two years of working from home.
Last year, Apple issued a directive asking unvaccinated corporate employees to have daily tests before entering the office while unvaccinated retail workers will have testing twice per week. The company also began requiring vaccinated individuals to take COVID-19 tests once a week before it lowered the frequency of these tests later.
However, Apple's "infrequent" testing policy no longer applies to workers who don't receive the booster shot by the company's deadline.
With the surge in COVID cases, various firms in the U.S. have been strengthening their COVID protocols. (Related: Big Tech companies looking to "normalize" vaccine passports.)
From mandating vaccination to delaying return to the office, Big Tech corporations are making strict rules to battle the spread of the COVID omicron virus.
Before Apple, Meta and Google had already announced new COVID guidelines for its employees. Just last week, Meta announced that it would mandate COVID-19 booster shot before the company’s return to in-office work in March.
Meta has delayed its office reopening from January 31 to March 28.
Not all Meta employees will be returning to office from March since workers can defer their return by three to five months. The company will also allow its employees to request for full-time remote work. Workers will have to decide by March 14 if they want to return to office, defer their return to their workplace or request remote work.
Also last week, Google conducted a weekly mandatory COVID-19 tests for employees entering their office. While the tech giant has not ordered company-wide booster shots yet, it requires its employees to have the first two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine aside from having weekly molecular tests.
Meanwhile, some reports suggest that Amazon has offered its U.S. warehouse workers $40 to have a booster shot.
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