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Microsoft Eyes October Reopening, Mandates Vaccines For US Office Visits

‘As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, we continue to closely track new developments and adapt our plans as this situation evolves, keeping employee health and safety top of mind,’ a Microsoft spokesperson says in an email to CRN.

Microsoft will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for employees, vendors and guests — with some exceptions — entering the tech giant’s U.S. buildings in September. The tech giant will also do a “full opening” for U.S. worksites no earlier than Oct. 4.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the news to CRN in an email Tuesday. Employees with medical conditions or religious and other “protected reason” for avoiding vaccination can receive “an accommodation” from the company, according to the email.

Caregivers of people who are immunosuppressed and parents of children who are too young to receive a vaccine can continue to work from home until January, according to the email. Microsoft also has flexible work policies available to all employees.

[RELATED: Google Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations For Returning Workers, Delays Return-To-Office Plan]

“As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, we continue to closely track new developments and adapt our plans as this situation evolves, keeping employee health and safety top of mind,” according to the emailed statement.

“Based on our continued consultation with health and data experts, our earliest date for the full opening of our U.S. worksites will be no earlier than October 4, 2021,” the statement continued. “Starting in September, we’ll also require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors, and any guests entering Microsoft buildings in the U.S., and will have an accommodation process in place for employees. We continue to review the situation on a local basis in each region/country/state where we work and will adjust dates and policies as needed.”

In March, Microsoft opened its Redmond, Wash., headquarters and nearby campuses to more workers while emphasizing a hybrid work approach going forward.

Last week, Google announced that it will start requiring vaccines for employees who want to work on its campuses — starting with those in the U.S. — with some allowable exceptions. Google also is extending its voluntary work-from-home policy, according to CEO Sundar Pichai, who cited the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19.

Kelly Yeh, president of Chantilly, Va.-based Microsoft partner Phalanx Technology Group, told CRN in an interview that Microsoft’s policy change is “a good move” in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issuing new guidance for people to wear masks indoors if they live in a community with high COVID-19 transmission.

“It’s a good move because they deal with the government and the federal government’s also using that as policy,” Yeh said. “They’re a private company, they should do what they feel is in their best interest for their employees and for the communities in which they are in.”

As an MSP, Phalanx has mandated employees to follow clients’ policies, which has meant a return to carrying personal protective equipment such as masks.

“It doesn’t bother us,” Yeh said. “We just want to make sure we don’t run afoul of our clients’ policies. My policy is, I didn’t ask for verification for COVID (vaccines), but I highly encouraged it just because we do go to so many clients’ sites. I said, ‘For your own personal safety, you probably want to get vaccinated.’”

In the past week, Google, Facebook and other tech firms announced they would be requiring vaccinations for returning employees.

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