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United Airlines letting unvaccinated employees return to work

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United Airlines will let unvaccinated employees return to their full-time jobs by March 28.

In a memo obtained by The Hill, the Chicago-based carrier wrote that about 2,220 of its employees have met vaccine-related reasonable accommodations to return to work. 

United Airlines was one of the first major U.S. employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for its employees, according to Reuters.

“We plan to welcome back those employees who have been out on an approved [accommodation] to their normal positions starting March 28,” the memo said.

United noted the recent decline of virus cases in the U.S., using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask guideline as an example.

The CDC earlier this month eased its mask recommendation for most Americans, advising that people living in communities with “low” or “medium” COVID-19 levels can go maskless.

“These changes suggest that the pandemic is beginning to meaningfully recede,” the memo said. “As a result, we’re confident we can safely begin the process of returning employees with accommodations to their jobs.” 

The memo added that if another variant of COVID-19 emerges and trends reverse course, the company will reevaluate its protocols. 

This comes as a U.S. appeals court last month in a 2-1 vote ordered a new review of a lower court decision not to block United from enforcing its employee vaccine mandate, Reuters noted.

In a statement last December, United CEO Scott Kirby said that only 200 employees were fired after not complying with the company’s vaccine mandate.

“We did this for safety,” Kirby said in December. “We believe it saved lives.”

— Updated at 2:05 p.m.

Tags Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC Scott Kirby The United Airlines vaccine mandate
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