Starbucks Ends Its Plan to Require Worker Vaccination and Testing

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Starbucks will no longer require its U.S. employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly coronavirus testing, following last week’s Supreme Court decision blocking the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test rule for large businesses.

John Culver, the president of North America and chief operating officer for Starbucks, announced the change in a memo to staff on Tuesday.

More than 90 percent of Starbucks workers in the United States have disclosed their vaccination status, according to the memo, and “the vast majority” are fully vaccinated. Starbucks, which operates nearly 9,000 stores in the United States, has about 200,000 domestic employees.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision last Thursday, Starbucks is one of the first major employers to backtrack on its plans to require vaccines. The ruling left large companies with the responsibility of deciding how to keep workers safe amid surging Covid-19 cases fueled by the highly infectious Omicron variant.

The Supreme Court’s decision, while blocking the federal government’s vaccine rule, does not prohibit companies from putting their own mandates in place. Many other large employers have kept their own mandates.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had issued a so-called emergency temporary standard in November aimed at protecting public health that told businesses with 100 workers or more to require employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. That rule was challenged in court by a number of business advocacy organizations.

“While the E.T.S. is now paused, I want to emphasize that we continue to believe strongly in the spirit and intent of the mandate,” Mr. Culver wrote.

On Jan. 3, Starbucks said it would comply with the Labor Department’s vaccine-or-test rule starting on the federal government’s deadline of Feb. 9. The company also said workers would have to disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 10.

Starbucks also announced a variety of new Covid-19 safety protocols on Tuesday. Workers are now required to wear 3-ply medical grade masks, and isolation guidelines have been expanded to cover anyone who has been exposed to Covid-19, even if they are fully vaccinated.

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