Woolworths, the largest supermarket chain in Australia, announced on Thursday that all of its workers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the beginning of next year. Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said that the move was part of the company’s obligation to give workers the “safest possible work environment” as they provide communities with essential goods, reports Xinhua news agency. “We have 170,000 team members across our stores, distribution centres and support offices, and more than 1,200 retail stores. With each store welcoming an average of 20,000 customers a week, a single team member can come into contact with quite literally thousands of people in the course of a normal working week,” said Banducci. The proposed mandate would come into effect for workers in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW), the Northern Territory (NT), and Victoria to be fully vaccinated by January 31, 2022. For other states it would be March 31. Following suit, other major supermarkets, Coles and Aldi, have also issued vaccine mandates. While their timelines are still in the pipeline, for most states it would be sometime towards the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. The rulings would likely impact a total of some 250,000 workers across the country. “There is a clear and compelling case for a vaccination requirement. This is particularly important as restrictions ease and we see higher rates of transmission,” said Banducci.