Tyson Foods Just Made A Huge Change To Its Employee Mask Policy

Don't get too excited yet, but there are some glimmers of hope that the obscenely long-winded COVID-19 pandemic might soon be a thing of the past. The latest sign is that chicken, pork, and beef giant Tyson Foods has changed its employee mask policy to match declining COVID-19 diagnosis and hospitalization rates. Per the Associated Press, fully vaccinated workers no longer have to don masks while on the job in both warehouses and stores. That is, unless state or local laws require otherwise.

It's not a total about-face, however. Unvaccinated people must still mask up, and most office workers won't be allowed to go mask-free just yet. In fact, they are still subject to regular testing. Workers at the brand's many meat-packing facilities also must continue wearing masks to work, although there is potential that the mask-optional policy will soon affect those workers, as long as they don't interact with government inspectors, Reuters reports. This is at least partially due to the fact that meat-packing plants were definite "hot-spots" in the early days of the pandemic. In fact, most Tyson workers will have to wait a while yet to benefit from this rule change. Still, it's a step in a positive direction.

Other companies are changing mask policies

Tyson is hopping on the bandwagon with other companies, like Amazon and Walmart, which have recently edited their employee mask requirements. Such moves by the top two private employers in the country have smaller companies feeling more confident, clearly. Many U.S. states are even following suit, as a lot of mask mandates that affect schools and public places are about to expire with no renewal in sight, according to The New York Times.

Tyson's pivot comes on the heels of a pandemic that the company responded to with aggressive COVID-19 prevention measures, including 150+ onsite vaccination events, "thank you" payments to fully vaccinated employees, onsite testing, expansion of nurses and medical staff, and the addition of tools like infrared temperature scanners and social distance monitors. Hopefully, the pandemic is truly, once-and-for-all winding down this time, so these improvements will be left to help out with run-of-the-mill illnesses and more people can start to go maskless in their place of business.