Google relaxes COVID-19 rules for its US employees

It lifted a rule requiring employees to be vaccinated against the virus.

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Google delayed its employees' return to office a few times over the past year, but it looks like the tech giant is truly gearing up to welcome workers back this time. According to CNBC, the company is easing some of its COVID-related mandates as part of those efforts, including relaxing its vaccine requirements for employees.

CNBC reported back in December that Google will place employees who don't comply with its vaccine mandate by January 18th on leave unless they secure a valid medical or religious exemption. The report also said that those employees will eventually be fired if they continue refusing to be inoculated against the virus. Google spokesperson Lora Lee Erickson told the news organization that the company dropped the requirement last month, though they refused to discuss the reason behind the decision.

Based on an email from Google Real Estate and Workplace Services VP David Radcliffe that CNBC has obtained, the company is also dropping its testing requirements that also applied to vaccinated employees. It's lifting its mask and social distancing requirements for vaccinated employees, with the exception of its offices in Santa Clara County where its Mountain View headquarters are located, as well. That said, unvaccinated employees must still be approved to work in offices, and they'll still have to wear masks and get regularly tested if they're coming in.

On top of easing up its COVID mandates, Google is also reopening its amenities for employees, including its fitness centers with massages, full shuttle service, more places to eat, as well as lounges and music rooms. Erickson told CNBC:

"We're giving employees who welcome the chance to come into the office the option to do that wherever we safely can, while allowing those who aren't ready to keep working from home. Based on current conditions in the Bay Area, we're pleased that our employees who choose to come in now have the ability to access more onsite spaces and services to work and connect with colleagues."

Google still doesn't have an exact date for its return to office, but Radcliffe's note reportedly said that the company will begin its 30-day transition to its hybrid work week plan if conditions continue to improve. Under the plan, employees will be required to physically come into the company's offices at least thrice a week.

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