Some Triangle businesses to verify vaccinations, others leaving it up to personal choice
Posted July 29, 2021 6:34 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2021 7:39 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper's message to private businesses on Thursday was to verify that employees were vaccinated and if not, have them wear masks. It comes on the heels of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control new guidance for even vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in high-transmission areas.
As the guidance changes, so do the protocols.
At Citrix in Raleigh, managers are strongly suggesting vaccines, but not mandating them. A Citrix spokesperson said 85 percent of their employees in their large offices have self-reported getting vaccinated. But all employees are still required to wear masks and social distance.
Cree, which employs 2,600 people in North Carolina, is not requiring employees to get vaccinated.
"We have not mandated [getting vaccinated.] We respect our employees personal choices for what they think is best for them about whether or not they get a vaccine," said Margaret Chadwick, Cree's human resources director.
Instead, Chadwick said the company is encouraging vaccinations, requiring masks and paying attention to shifting guidance on virus protocols.
"We actually were set to make some changes as of next week to the indoor masking requirements, but in the last couple of days, we've decided to stay with our current protocols and not make any changes," said Chadwick.
More than 3,000 coronavirus cases were recorded in North Carolina in the past 24 hours -- the highest number in one day since February.
Other large companies have required vaccinations, including Google, which recently announced an engineering hub in Durham. The company is requiring vaccinations and pushing back its official return-to-work date from early September to mid-October.
At Facebook, all employees must get vaccinated before coming back to the office, the company announced Wednesday.
Apple, which recently announced plans to build a hub in the Triangle Research Park, which recently pushed back plans to return employees to in-person work until September, has not announced whether it will require vaccinations.
But, concerns have been brought up about how managers will handle vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. Employees with medical or religious reasons for not getting vaccinated are protected under the law.
Small business owners like Mandy Becker, who owns stores in Raleigh and Cary that employ 25 people, don't want to see a return to statewide mandates after so many people were thrilled to get rid of masking.
"I've noticed that my customers are happier and my employees are happier," said Becker. "Wearing a mask for eight hours a day is a lot."
President of O2 Fitness Doug Warf said anyone fully vaccinated, including employees, does not need to wear a mask at the gym. Warf added that he won't be requiring employees to get the vaccine.
"Without us seeing any type of spread in the club, there's no reason for us to feel like we need to force that. So, we're not going to mandate that," Warf explained.
Instead, Warf said he's encouraged his team to get vaccinated. But, he believes it's a personal choice.
"We all need to look at our data points and the science behind what we're seeing and make our own decisions," he said.
Consultant Brian Kropp said business owners are in a tough spot of having to constantly reassess their COVID-19 guidelines.
"You've got some groups of employees that say forcing people to get vaccines is wrong. We've got another group of employees saying everyone should be vaccinated. You have to make a stance here. You can't be in the middle. You have to pick one side or the other," said Kropp.
Kropp said whatever a business's vaccine protocol is, the reasoning should be shared with employees. He also said businesses shouldn't be afraid to adapt to the changing landscape and change course the pandemic changes.