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Delta will require that new employees be vaccinated.

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Delta Air Lines will require new hires to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but will exempt current employees from that mandate, making it one of the first major corporations to embrace such a requirement.

“Any person joining Delta in the future, a future employee, we’re going to mandate they be vaccinated before they can sign up with the company,” Ed Bastian, the airline’s chief executive, said in a CNN interview on Thursday evening.

While current employees will be exempt, Mr. Bastian said that he expected 75 to 80 percent of the airline’s work force to be vaccinated anyway and that he would “strongly encourage” the rest to do so. Unvaccinated employees could face some restrictions, such as not being allowed to work on international flights, he added.

For large corporations, such decisions are thorny. On one hand, requiring vaccinations for all employees would lower the anxiety of workers returning to the office and help the country reach herd immunity, which would support the economic rebound. On the other, it raises privacy concerns and could risk a backlash or even litigation.

In January, Scott Kirby, the chief executive of United Airlines, told employees in a video forum that he supported the idea but added that the carrier could not “realistically be the only company” to do so. No one followed suit, and United never acted.



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