City of Whitehorse employees will not be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by March 20.
While the city had originally put forward a requirement that staff be vaccinated by Feb. 20, it had been extended to March 20 to allow more time for staff to be vaccinated, as well as many restrictions being lifted and a high vaccination rate of about 98 per cent among city staff.
In a March 7 email correspondence, city spokesperson Myles Dolphin said the vaccination directive is now suspended immediately “given the evolution of the pandemic, the changes other large employers are making to their policies, and the city’s high vaccination rate.”
He added that if things change and there are increased recommendations from the chief medical officer of health, the city would consider potentially reinstating the directive to ensure the safety of staff and the public.
Territorial restrictions are being lifted, with the mask mandate and proof of vaccination requirements to go into certain businesses and facilities set to end March 18, though individual business can require masks and proof of vaccination from customers.
On April 4, the territory also plans to end its vaccine mandate for staff.
When the city announced in November it would require its employees to be vaccinated, it emphasized the city’s responsibility to protect staff, the public and to keep the city safe.
A medical accommodation process was set to be in place that would allow for exemptions if an employee could show they’ve been deemed by a medical doctor to need an exemption from the vaccine.
“As one of the largest employers in the territory, the city has an obligation to protect its workforce, as well as the public that uses our facilities on a daily basis,” Mayor Laura Cabott said at that time. “The safety of our residents is a top priority as we continue to offer a high level of service during this pandemic.”
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