ViacomCBS will delay asking employees to return to offices until this October “at the very earliest,” according to a memo from CEO Bob Bakish.
ViacomCBS did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Bakish told employees in an Aug. 4 letter first viewed by Variety that the media company will also observe the response of “schools, governments and other employers” in finalizing its plans to return to the office.
Bakish added that the company will continue employees working in U.S. locations to be fully vaccinated and go back to requiring all employees to wear masks indoors regardless of whether or not they have a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are assessing if we will make this vaccination requirement mandatory for all employees returning to the office,” Bakish added.
One factor informing ViacomCBS’ new requirements is the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which can still infect and spread through vaccinated people. Bakish cited this and said the company consulted with “our medical and public health experts” before coming to the decision to continue enforcing the vaccine requirement for employees.
Read the full text of Bakish’s memo obtained by TheWrap below.
Even as we balance a lot on our plates – both at work and at home – we continue to make great progress on our company priorities for the year. That said, I know this remains a very difficult and uncertain period for all of us and our loved ones.
As you are well aware, in recent weeks, the highly contagious Delta variant has driven a surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. and globally, especially where vaccination rates are low. Given this development, and after consulting our medical and public health experts, we have come to a few important decisions with regards to our policies for returning to U.S. offices:
First, in line with CDC guidance, effective immediately, we are requiring indoor masking for all employees working at our U.S. locations – regardless of their vaccination status.
Second, we are delaying the Green Phase of our return – when most of us will come into the office as part of the hybrid model – until October 18, 2021, at the very earliest. We will continue to closely monitor the impacts of the Delta variant and the response from schools, governments and other employers as we finalize our plans to return to the office.
Third, we continue to require employees working at our U.S. locations during the Yellow phase to be fully vaccinated, with some previously noted exceptions for certain union, production and essential on-site personnel. We are assessing if we will make this vaccination requirement mandatory for all employees returning to the office in the Green phase, and will update you with the specifics of this policy as soon as it is finalized, with sufficient time for you and your teams to satisfy any mandatory requirements.
Please know that we’ve made these decisions out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of everyone in the ViacomCBS community, which has and will always be our top priority. We’re focused on getting this right, which means continuing to be deliberative in our approach as conditions evolve.
I’ll be covering these updates and other important company news at BOB LIVE tomorrow, August 5, at 12:30pm ET, so I encourage you to tune in or watch the replay.
In the meantime, please remember to visit the Workplace Evolution page for more information and resources, and if you have questions not yet addressed in our FAQ guide or other materials, please email [redacted].
I’m so proud that amid these challenging circumstances we continue to lift each other up and support our audiences, partners and communities more than ever before. Thank you.
Read original story ViacomCBS Delays Office Return, Mandates Masks Alongside Vaccines At TheWrap