Berkeley promulgates COVID vaccine mandate for city workers



The city of Berkeley has set a deadline for workers who are still not vaccinated against COVID-19 to be protected or, with few exceptions, potentially lose their jobs.

After weeks of discussions with labor groups, City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley announced in an email to employees Monday night that Berkeley adopted a new policy requiring workers to be fully immunized by November 15.

Only those who cannot be vaccinated for reasons of “medical necessity” or “sincere religious beliefs,” the policy says, are exempt from the requirement.

“I am very proud of our employees, who have worked hard to protect our community during this unprecedented time,” Williams-Ridley said in a statement Tuesday. “Having employees vaccinated not only protects our staff, but helps us better serve our community as we encounter flare-ups or new variants and manage the continued presence of COVID-19 in our lives. “

The policy requires workers to report their immunization status to the city by October 15.

Unless they claim an exception, workers must be fully immunized one month later, which means two weeks have passed since they received their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or injection vaccine. single Johnson and Johnson. The policy also applies to interns and city volunteers, and new employees should be fully immunized on their first day on the job.

All city employees seeking exemption from the requirement for medical or religious reasons must make this request by October 15. And anyone who is not fully vaccinated by November 1 will need to be tested for COVID-19 at least once a week.

Failure to get the vaccine or to undergo testing “may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination,” the policy says.

Several California cities have instituted similar vaccination requirements for their employees, but with its very limited exceptions, the Berkeley rules join a similar policy adopted in San Francisco as one of the strictest in the Bay Area. San Jose and Walnut Creek, for example, allow employees to forgo vaccination without requesting a medical or religious exception, and instead undergo regular testing.

Berkeley City Council authorized Williams-Ridley to pass the policy at its September 14 meeting, although several key details were not made public until this week.

“This extraordinary step is necessary to protect the health and safety of our community,” said Mayor Jesse Arreguín, who first applied for a vaccination mandate in early August, ahead of the council vote to approve the policy.

Williams-Ridley urged unvaccinated workers to get vaccinated early so they comply with the policy. Appointments can be made through your health care provider or the state’s website, and information on city immunization clinics is available at www.cityofberkeley .info / vaccine.

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