Companies Impose Employee Vaccine Mandates as Delta Variant Spreads

Corporate America is getting serious about vaccine requirements for employees — including suppliers in the business events sector. Will events themselves follow suit?

Author: Curt Wagner       

Walt Disney World Orlando

The Walt Disney Company is among many companies that are implementing vaccine requirements for employees, and mask mandates for visitors to theme parks, including Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. (Amy Humphries/Unsplash)

Freeman and The Walt Disney Company are the latest businesses to require its employees show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test, following Google, Facebook, Walmart, Netflix, Uber, and event company Union Square Hospitality Group, among others.

The new pandemic policies come in the face of a rise in COVID-19 cases sparked by the impact of the Delta variant, which the CDC has said is more contagious and has a longer transmission window than the original COVID-19 strain, CNBC reports.

The Walt Disney Company said Friday it is requiring all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of September. In addition, employees who are still working from home will be required to provide proof they have been vaccinated before they can return to any Disney sites, including theme parks and offices.

Also Friday, event company Freeman announced several new policies “to protect the health and safety of our team, our customers, and our industry,” a Freeman press release said. On Aug.1, Freeman began requiring all its employees to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result from within the past three days. The company has included financial incentives for those who are vaccinated and, if Freeman reaches a vaccination goal, has promised that employees will receive additional time off.

Employers can require their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine and prevent them from entering the workplace if they refuse, the federal government has said, as Convene has previously reported.

There are exceptions, however. The Americans with Disabilities Act, for example, may allow people with medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated to remain unvaccinated. Also, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits people with religious objections to vaccination to seek an accommodation from their employer.

The meetings industry may be following businesses in implementing vaccine mandates, if slowly, Convene reports.

Both Freeman and The Walt Disney Company have reinstated mask mandates, as have many cities and businesses. Anyone on a Freeman property or show site now must wear a mask and practice social distancing, the press release said. Disney is now requiring theme park guests to wear masks while at its indoor venues, CNBC reports.

Curt Wagner is digital editor of Convene.