Just a day after President Biden moved to Chicago to plead for a vaccine mandate, saying they were the only way to defeat the coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Friday that public activists would continue testing until the end of the year. Can get out of the city mandate. .
The mayor announced a mandate for Chicago workers in August. But the proposal was met with immediate backlash from employees and labor groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Chicago Federation of Labor.
Now, workers who have not been fully vaccinated by October 15, including those who have sought medical or religious exemptions, will be given their own time and expense twice a week, three to four days apart. A separate test will have to be done, the mayor’s office said.
Employees who fail to report their vaccination status by the October 15 deadline will be placed on unpaid leave.
The test-out option will remain in effect until December 31, after which employees must be fully vaccinated, unless they receive a medical or religious exemption. It was unclear what the consequences would be for those refusing to comply.
Cities and states across the country have introduced vaccine mandates for their employees, and some have faced legal challenges.
After delays by courts, a vaccine mandate for teachers and staff in New York City’s public schools was approved to go ahead following a ruling by a federal appeals panel last week. Though it faced opposition, the mandate prompted thousands of employees of the Education Department to take their shots.
Municipal workers in Seattle and Los Angeles are required to be fully vaccinated against the virus by next week, although unlike Chicago’s policy, there is no test-out option. Both mandates allow for religious or medical accommodation.
Chicago had been in talks with labor unions since the August announcement.