The City of Bethel, home to 6,200 residents in rural Alaska, is demanding that all city employees, volunteers and contractors get COVID shots in order to keep their jobs.
According to the new policy, which was announced by City Manager Peter Williams on Sept. 13, all employees must receive the first dose of a COVID shot by Sept. 27 unless they are granted a religious or medical exemption. Each exemption application, however, will be reviewed by the city’s Human Resources department to determine whether the person qualifies. According to the new policy, HR will “consider whether the employee’s unvaccinated status creates an undue hardship to the City or poses a direct threat to the individual, other employees or the community.”
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Additionally, new hires, consultants, contractors and all volunteers will be required to present proof of vaccination. Those who fail to comply will be subject to “discipline up to and including termination.”
The new policy represents a tightening of COVID mandates in Bethel. Last month, the city banned hiring any new employees who have declined to take the COVID shots. It also required any unvaccinated employees to submit to weekly COVID tests, and every employee (regardless of vaccination status) must wear a mask indoors when within six feet of any other person.
The city employs about 105 full-time employees.
- 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.