Tyson Foods Allows Certain Factory Workers To Forgo Masks

Tyson Foods (TSN), which was one of the first companies in the U.S to make Covid vaccines mandatory for its employees, has decided to ease the mask requirements for its employees as the number of active Covid cases in the U.S decline steadily.

The meatpacking company said on Tuesday that workers who are fully vaccinated at some of its factories need not wear their masks to work. With this move, Tyson Foods joins other companies like Walmart and states like New York, which have started easing restrictions to let things come back to normal.

Tyson Foods senior vice president of health and safety, Tom Brower, said. "Due to our many efforts and, most importantly, our enterprise-wide vaccinated status, we've seen lower rates of Covid-19 infection, as well as extremely low rates of serious illness at Tyson. And in recent weeks, the number of active cases at Tyson has declined significantly."

Tyson employs more 120,000 workers in around dozen states. The long hours the employees spend in the closed factories make them vulnerable towards the virus. Slaughterhouses were also one of the main hotspots for the virus. As a result of all these issues, the company decided to make Covid-19 vaccine compulsory for its employees.

Even though the virus was fast-spreading in slaughter houses, in April 2020, the then U.S President Donald Trump said that "the slaughtering and processing of beef, chicken and pork was critical infrastructure, thus allowing the plants to stay open, despite the increasing number of deaths among workers.

The company said that it has spent more than $810 million on coronavirus safety measures and new on-site medical services. It conducts plant-wide coronavirus testing on a regular basis and has also appointed its first chief medical officer.

Brower said that Tyson defines fully vaccinated as two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot. The company has hosted more than 100 clinics giving offering booster shots and it continues to "strongly encourage" booster shots for employees.

The new rule of "no mask" depends on local and other applicable laws, as well as federal regulations, which require the continued use of masks at certain places, given the high transmission rate. The company will soon let employees know which plants and offices will be affected by the change.

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