Google will extend its voluntary remote work option through mid-October and require its employees returning to work in-person to be vaccinated, CEO Sundar Pichai said on Wednesday.
“First, anyone coming to work on our campuses will need to be vaccinated. We’re rolling this policy out in the US in the coming weeks and will expand to other regions in the coming months… Second, we are extending our global voluntary work-from-home policy through October 18,” Pichai said in an email to Google employees.
The remote work extension is meant to provide flexibility for those employees working in areas where the Delta variant of the coronavirus has caused a spike in new cases. Pichai also said that the company will be allowing parents, caregivers and those in special circumstances to apply for extended leave through the end of the year.
The vaccine mandate for employees will not apply until doses are “widely available” in their area, Pachai said, adding that there will be an exceptions process for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other protected reasons.
New York City is offering $100 to each resident to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying on Wednesday the inducement was necessary as infections and hospitalizations from the virus were increasing again.
“We’re on the verge of administering 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in New York City. Now, we’re sweetening the deal,” de Blasio said in a Twitter post. “100 bucks is yours if you get vaccinated. Do it today.”
Nearly five million New Yorkers have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, but the speed of inoculations has slowed. Two million adult New Yorkers are still unvaccinated, according to city records.
New York City’s new caseload was 929 on Tuesday, with 108 new hospitalizations compared to 226 new cases and 22 hospitalizations a month earlier.
De Blasio on Monday ordered that all government workers in New York City be vaccinated for COVID or face weekly tests as case counts spike from the Delta variant of the virus. The order came ahead of a September 13 reopening date for all schools in the city as a million students are set to return to the classrooms.
On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new recommendation that indoor masking, including for the vaccinated, be reintroduced in all areas of high coronavirus transmissibility and also in all schools as a precaution.
The efficacy of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine slips to 84 percent after six months, a new report revealed by medRxiv showed on Wednesday.
"Efficacy peaked at 96.2 percent during the interval from 7 days to <2 months post-dose 2, and declined gradually to 83.7 percent from 4 months post-dose 2 to the data cut-off, an average decline of ~6 percent every 2 months," the report said.
Ongoing follow-up is needed to understand the persistence of the vaccine effect over time, the report added.
Hungary, the only EU country to vaccinate its citizens with Russia's Sputnik V, has opened its doors to Russians who have received any of the currently existing shots, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
"Those Russian citizens who are vaccinated against COVID-19 and [are] holding a Russian COVID-19 immunity certificate, can freely enter Hungary as of 27th July. There is no distinction between the different types of vaccines, therefore Russian citizens with valid Schengen visa and vaccination certificate can enter Hungary without further restrictions (i.e. no PCR test or quarantine required)," the ministry said.
Hungary became the first EU member state to approve the use of the Sputnik V vaccine. In early June, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Budapest was discussing with Moscow the possible production of Russian vaccines at a Hungarian factory.
Russia resumed flights to Hungary on June 10. Starting July 24, the number of weekly Moscow-Budapest flights increased from two to four.
Face masks will be required of all employees working indoors, including those fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, to comply with the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Wednesday.
“DHS is following the new CDC guidance… and instructions to ensure the safety of our workforce,” the department said via Twitter. “Beginning today, all employees, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask indoors and physically distance.”
On Tuesday, the CDC announced new recommendations that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the United States where the coronavirus is reportedly surging - a threshold that applies to Washington, DC - due to the ability of the Delta variant to spread among vaccinated individuals.
In addition to DHS, the White House and the House of Representatives also imposed mask requirements on everyone indoors, including vaccinated individuals.
The UK government confirmed on Wednesday that passengers fully vaccinated with vaccines that have been authorized by the US and European Union regulatory agencies will not have to self-isolate upon arrival in England if travelling from amber list countries.
“From 4am 2 August 2021, passengers who are fully vaccinated in the EU with vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or in the USA with vaccines authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or in the Swiss vaccination programme, will be able to travel to England without having to quarantine or take a day 8 test on arrival,” the UK Department of Transport said in a statement.
Those arriving from amber countries will still need to show a COVID-19 test with a negative result before travelling to the UK and take a PCR test on or before day 2 of their stay.
The UK government also confirmed the go-ahead for international cruise travels from England.
The number of Russian citizens who have received both Sputnik V jabs currently stands at about 20 million, Chief Public Health Official Anna Popova said on Wednesday.
About 1 million people have been immunised with EpiVacCorona vaccine, while some 300,000 Russian citizens have had two CoviVac shots.
South Korea has recorded its highest-ever daily rise in COVID-19 cases for the past day, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a statement.
The country reported 1,896 new coronavirus cases for Tuesday, the KDCA said.
The previous record of 1,318 people was set on 9 July.