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Google mandates vaccines for employees returning to office

As the coronavirus pandemic took hold, Google sent the majority of its almost 140,000 employees home last March to work remotely. Now though, the tech giant’s campuses are reopening, and workers are returning to the office, but only once they’ve been vaccinated, CEO Sundar Pichai told his employees in an email on Wednesday.

“Anyone coming to work on our campuses will need to be vaccinated,” Pichai wrote, adding that the policy will be rolled out in the US in the coming weeks, and worldwide afterwards.

Staff who do not wish to return to in-person work will be able to work from home until October, he continued, and the company will also allow some staff to work primarily from home through the end of the year.

Google is the largest private corporation so far to make inoculation mandatory for its staff, but the entire US government might soon follow suit. President Joe Biden told reporters on Tuesday that a vaccine requirement for federal workers is “under consideration right now,” and media reports suggest that an announcement on the topic could come as early as Thursday.

Both Biden and Google apparently have the power to ask their workers to get jabbed. A review by the Justice Department concluded this week that both private and public entities can order workers to get vaccinated, even if the vaccines in question are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as the current crop of coronavirus vaccines are not.

Google, however, has offices in 50 countries worldwide, and legal challenges against the vaccine mandate could be mounted in some of these locations. Pichai’s email noted that the mandate “will vary according to local conditions and regulations,” though no further details were provided.

Shortly after Pichai’s statement, Netflix announced that it will require all actors working on its productions in the US, and the staff in close contact with them, to be vaccinated.

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