Woolworths has dropped its controversial vaccine mandate for employees.
The supermarket chain announced this week that unvaccinated staff, who have not been able to work for more than a year, would be invited to reapply for their jobs.
The retailer would continue to “strongly recommend” vaccination but the jab would no longer be a requirement of employment.
The store would also relax Covid safety measures including ditching plastic safety screens and social distancing stickers. Hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes would remain at the entrance to all stores.
Woolworths controversially mandated the jab for employees working in store, as well as in distribution centres and offices in October 2021.
The move attracted criticism because, while staff had to be fully vaccinated, customers did not.
Woolworths Group Chief Medical Officer Dr Rob MCartney said high vaccination rates in the community meant that “greater freedoms” could now be announced.
“Our team vaccination requirement was designed to respond to the health risks during an acute period of the pandemic, however we have recently reviewed whether it is still necessary in light of high community-wide vaccination and the evolution in how we now live with Covid,” he said.
Meanwhile, Coles supermarkets – who also mandated the jab for staff in October 2021 - have said they will not make any changes to their vaccination policy.
“Coles regularly reviews Covid controls, including sneeze-guards and vaccination requirements, taking into account expert advice, case numbers and consultation with our team members,' a spokesperson said.
“Coles has not made any changes to its Covid controls at this time and we continue to encourage our customers and team members to maintain Covid Safe behaviours.”