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Humana delays return to office until 2022, nearby businesses continue to struggle with reduced foot traffic

The company's vaccination policy remains in place. Employees must be fully vaccinated or receive an approved exemption by Jan. 14, 2022.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — One of the city's largest employers is delaying its return to the office until 2022. Humana announced a change to its return timeline due to the "alarming" rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Mark Taylor, Humana's director of corporate and financial communications, said the company is adjusting facility reentry dates to after Jan. 14, 2022.

"As infections and hospitalizations caused by the COVID-19 Delta variant continue to rise at alarming rates, and with many of our employees expressing their concern over returning to the office during this surge, we continue to take action to protect the health and safety of our associates, members and communities," Taylor said.

Taylor said the company's vaccination policy is still in place for when employees return.

"Employees who will, at any point in the future, work outside of their home on behalf of Humana will need to be fully vaccinated or receive an approved exemption by January 14, 2022," Taylor said.

Some groups may need to be vaccinated before that time. Humana will communicate with them directly.

Humana has already delayed the return of its workers to the office this year. In August, the health care giant that employs nearly 13,000 people moved its return date from Labor Day week to Oct. 18.

Restaurants, bars and coffee shops across downtown Louisville continue to feel the effects, especially during lunch rush hours. Many have waited months for a large chunk of their customers to come back, and now they're learning the wait gets longer. 

Right on Main Street in downtown, you'll find determined restaurant owner Daniel Passafiume each week day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"We focus on farm-to-table food that is in peak season," Passafiume said.

It's been four months since In Season's grand opening in May. COVID-19 was a known hurdle, but they expected more foot traffic to fall back on during the summer.

"There seems to be a lack of presence downtown as far as office workers go," Passafiume said.

On Thursday, the restaurant's business model built for speed hit another speed bump. In Season is one of many locally-owned shops downtown pushing through lunch rush "plateaus."

They said the slowdowns are in large part a result of the thousands of Humana employees still working from home.

"It's not like we expected, so yes it's been a big challenge for us to try and make things work without having that much of a labor force down here," he said. "Like any business owner down here is going to said, it's a disappointment."

While Passafiume said he understands the move, he says it's possible they'll have to adapt plans to stay pushing forward.

"Adding breakfast, and figuring out how to add liquor," Passafiume said.

RELATED: Humana to require COVID vaccines for some employees

RELATED: 'I would be reluctant to impose a mandate on anybody' Kentucky businesses, attorneys react to Biden's big vaccine mandate

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