The City of Bethel – a village of 6,200 residents – has implemented a policy that bans hiring any new employees who have declined to take the COVID shots.
Effective Aug. 10, the city stated that “all applicants for hire must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and its variants and show proof of vaccination prior to being considered for hire.”
The city website adds that any exemptions to the policy will be evaluated on a “case-by-case basis.”
The vaccination mandate applies to all city departments which includes police, fire, public works, planning, finance, human resources, port and IT. The city employs about 105 full-time employees.
Additionally, the city approved a policy earlier this month that requires all existing employees, volunteers and contractors to show proof of vaccination status. Those who fail to do so are required to submit to weekly COVID tests, physically distance themselves from all other people and continually wear a mask. Additionally, every employee, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks indoors when they are within six feet of any other person. Any employee refusing to abide by the policy faces disciplinary action.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
For the general public, Bethel requires masking in most indoor settings, while riding public transportation and when standing in line outside. Only limited exemptions are permitted.
Bethel has one of the highest rates of vaccination in the state with more than 56% of eligible residents now deemed fully vaccinated. Despite these numbers, the area continues to experience one of highest rates of infection in the state. As of Aug. 23, the state reports that 16 Bethel residents have contracted COVID within the past three days. That’s more than five times the number of people who have contracted COVID in the Mat-Su over the same period. Unlike Bethel, however, the much larger Mat-Su area has no mask mandates, and the percentage of fully vaccinated residents is less than 38%.
- Click here to contact the Bethel City Council members.
- Click here to contact the Bethel City manager.
- Click here for information on how to submit a vaccine exemption form.