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Meta Platforms demands staffers provide proof of COVID-19 booster vaccine before returning to office

Net closing in on anti-vaxxers as growing band of tech titans get tougher on jabs

Facebook parent Meta Platforms is postponing employees' return to US offices until the end of March – when it will require proof of a booster jab from eligible workers before they actually set foot in any of the locations.

The mass inflow of staff was last pegged as 31 January, but the rapid spread of the Omicron variant forced Meta, along with Google, Amazon, and others to rethink their schedules.

"We're focused on making sure our employees continue to have choices about where they work given the current COVID-19 landscape," said Meta veep of HR Janelle Gale in a canned remark. "We understand that the continued uncertainty makes this a difficult time to make decisions about where to work, so we’re giving more time to choose what works best for them."

Anyone at Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp who intends to keep working out of the office after the 28 March deadline set by corporate parent Meta will need make a request by mid-March to their boss.

One thing the megacorp seems less flexible about is that its people going back into the office must be able to show evidence of a booster vaccination. There's plenty of bad science on Facebook, but presumably most staff recognise the importance of getting the shots themselves.

A spokesperson for Meta told the Wall Street Journal: "Boosters provide increased protection." They added: “Given the evidence of booster effectiveness, we are expanding our vaccination requirements to include boosters."

In December, Google reportedly told employees they must provide proof of vaccination or successfully apply for exemption from their jabs. Failure to do so could mean they'll be fired. Cisco has also talked tough.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla claimed yesterday the company is working to create a vaccination that tackles the Omnicrom variant from March. "We [are] already starting manufacturing some of these quantities at risk."

Meta's action aren't a surprise. Apple and Microsoft will both demand staff provide proof of vaccine before they return to the office.

Microsoft said in August it'd need "proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors, and any guests entering Microsoft buildings in the US, and will have an accommodation process in place for employees."

Over in Cupertino, Apple said that all unvaccinated employees would have to be tested for COVID-19 each time they want to come into the office, in a policy in place from November. That was until it delayed the return to office indefinitely.

In England, large venues and events – nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, outdoor venues with more than 4,00 unseated customers and any place with more than 10,000 people – will require an NHS Covid Pass, a negative PCR or rapid lateral flow test, or proof of medical exemption, before entry is granted. ®

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