(Bloomberg) -- American Express Co. is ending a requirement that employees need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter offices as virus cases decline globally.

The decision, which takes effect Nov. 1, applies to offices across the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, according to an internal memo to staff seen by Bloomberg. Staffers also will no longer have to be vaccinated to attend company-sponsored in-person events. 

“We established vaccine requirements in certain countries where local conditions and/or government mandates warranted, and we launched a range of other safety protocols,” Chief Executive Officer Steve Squeri said in the memo. “We did this knowing that any vaccine requirements would not last forever and would be removed when appropriate.”

The move comes nearly a year after AmEx first said it would require staffers returning to its US offices to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The New York-based credit-card company has been one of the few financial firms to embrace remote work in the aftermath of the pandemic: 40% of staffers have chosen to be fully virtual, while a majority have opted to come into the office just two days a week as part of the firm’s so-called AmEx Flex model.  

Squeri told staffers getting vaccinated and staying up to date with booster shots is their “best defense against serious illness,” adding that the company offers extra paid-time-off days for those employees who get vaccinated. AmEx will continue with enhanced cleaning procedures at its facilities, he said. 

Employees who test positive for Covid will have to submit a health-status form and stay home until the company’s medical office clears them to return, and Squeri urged workers who are feeling ill -- even those with mild symptoms -- to stay home.

“As conditions have evolved considerably, the time is right for us to change our own policy,” Squeri said. “With this decision, more of our colleagues will have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of working together in person under our AmEx Flex model, if they choose to do so.”

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.