Two of the largest retail giants in the U.S. have shortened the leave time allotted to employees who are infected with COVID-19 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened their quarantine guidelines for the virus.
In a memo to employees Friday, Amazon announced that it would shorten the required isolation period for workers who test positive for COVID-19 from ten days to seven, The Wall Street Journal reported. That is two days more than the CDC’s guidance, which recommends employees quarantine for five days after a positive COVID test. The memo also said that employees would not have to show a negative test in order to return to work, which parallels the CDC’s guidance. The new guidance applies to all employees, regardless of vaccination status, Axios added.
Amazon said in the memo, via WSJ, that it established the new guidelines based on the new CDC guidance, as well as the advice of its own medical experts. “Throughout the past two years, we have consistently based our response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the advice of our own medical experts,” the memo said, via Axios.
Amazon did not elaborate on why it made the decision to impose a 7-day quarantine instead of the CDC’s 5-day recommendation. Amazon has also offered up to a week of paid leave for quarantined employees. “Additional leave options are available for individuals who remain symptomatic beyond one week,” Amazon said, via Axios.
Walmart is also revising its COVID policy in accordance with the new guidelines. A memo released to hourly store employees and long-haul drivers this week said that COVID-positive employees forced to quarantine would have their paid leave time shortened from two weeks to just one, Reuters reported. A Walmart spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that employees who continue to be sick are eligible to receive paid time off for up to 26 weeks. Reuters noted that Walmart’s adjusted paid leave policy is the first of its kind, and could serve as a bellwether for other companies.
The CDC adjusted its quarantine guidelines in late December, shortening its recommended quarantine period from ten days to five. The Daily Wire reported:
“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society. CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses,” CDC director Dr.Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
“These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives,” she added. “Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”
According to a press release issued by the CDC, the updated advice was “motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”
The CDC said that asymptomatic individuals “may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.”
The agency also said that individuals who were exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case may also shorten their isolation time.