ViacomCBS president and CEO Bob Bakish sent employees a memo Wednesday detailing the company’s concerns over the Delta variant of COVID-19 and specifying that most workers would not return to the office until Oct. 18 “at the very earliest.”
Bakish specified that employees returning to ViacomCBS prior to Oct. 18 in the “yellow phase” would need to be fully vaccinated, with the exception of “certain union, production and essential on-site personnel.”
ViacomCBS is also mandating that employees be masked when working indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Bakish’s memo says that the company’s “green phase,” when most of the employees were expected to return in a hybrid work model, would be in late October while ViacomCBS continues to closely monitor the Delta variant.
“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,” the memo reads.
Bakish’s memo says the company is still assessing if it will make vaccination mandatory for all employees when they return in October, and will give employees sufficient time to satisfy 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,” the memo said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Netflix announced it would require COVID-19 vaccinations for all visitors and employees in its offices, although there is no firm date for a mass return to its offices. Meanwhile, Disney is requiring vaccinations for its salaried and non-union employees, which number in the tens of thousands. Disney is seeking union approval to require vaccinations for union employees as well, reports the New York Times.
Variety's Pat Saperstein contributed to this post.