City workers in Philadelphia will be required to wear two face masks if they decide not to become vaccinated against COVID-19.
What are the details?
Philadelphia announced the new policy on Wednesday. The new COVID guidelines, which take effect on Sept. 1, require all city employees to prove they are fully vaccinated.
If Philadelphia city employees cannot prove they are fully vaccinated by Sept. 1, they will be "required to wear two masks" which the policy explains as "a cloth mask over a disposable or surgical mask" at "all times while working on-site."
The release from the city department of health explains:
Being vaccinated against COVID-19 results in an eight-fold reduction of risk if you're fully vaccinated compared to when you are not. If you're fully vaccinated, you have a 25-fold reduction of your risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID. The COVID vaccines protect people very well and are the best way to avoid a severe enough infection that could end up in hospitalization.
Simply put: the COVID vaccines work extremely well and are saving lives every day. The City has a vested interest in ensuring that all staff are protected as thoroughly as possible from severe COVID infection and death.
As the Associated Press noted, employer-instituted vaccine mandates. "Private companies and government agencies can require their employees to get vaccinated as a condition of working there," the AP explained.
The one possible exception for such mandates are disability and religious accommodations.
"Those who have a disability or a sincerely held religious belief may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under civil rights laws, so long as providing that accommodation does not constitute an undue hardship for the employer," employment lawyer Sharon Perley Masling told the AP.
Not only is Philadelphia requiring its city workers to be vaccinated — or else be forced to wear two masks — the city announced on Friday that all health care workers and all university students, staff, and faculty in the city "will also be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have a religious or medical exemption."
For health care workers awarded an exemption, they will be "required to have a PCR test or an antigen test twice per week."
Exempted college and university students and personnel will be required to submit to testing, double mask and social distance, or exempted students will be permitted to attend classes virtually.