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Starbucks to impose COVID-19 vaccine, testing requirements on Feb. 9

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Starbucks to impose COVID-19 vaccine, testing requirements on Feb. 9
Starbucks will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or subject to weekly testing beginning Feb. 9 in order to comply with a Biden administration mandate. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Starbucks unveiled new COVID-19 vaccine requirements for its employees as the company prepares to comply with President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for large businesses.

Starbucks told its approximately 220,000 U.S. employees that they must disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 10 and be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Feb. 9 or submit to undergo weekly testing, according to a letter to staff obtained by CNBC and The Wall Street Journal.

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Unvaccinated workers will be required to procure their own tests and at-home tests will not be accepted.

"My responsibility, and that of every leader, is to do whatever we can do to help keep you safe and create the safest work environment," Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver said in a letter sent to employees on Dec. 27.

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The Feb. 9 vaccination deadline corresponds with a mandate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandating that private companies with at least 100 employees require workers to be either fully vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and masking.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit lifted a lower stay blocking enforcement of the OSHA rule last month, calling it "an important step in curtailing the transmission" of COVID-19 but the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the mandate on Friday.

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Culver said that Starbucks will update its timeline for workers if the enforcement date for the OSHA mandate changes as a result of the legal challenges.

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The company added it may also update its policies if the COVID-19 pandemic worsens.

"If vaccination rates rise and community spread slows, we will adapt accordingly. But if things get worse, we may have to consider additional measures," Culver said.

Starbucks also updated its policy for how long employees should isolate after contracting COVID-19, stating workers who are experiencing symptoms but have tested negative for the virus can return to work before the five-day isolation period is up if their symptoms have improved.

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