RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said he is requiring all city employees be vaccinated.
“This pandemic is not over,” Stoney said. Because the pandemic is still in full swing, Stoney continued to repeat his message: everyone who can get vaccinated should roll up their sleeve.
This new mandate will apply to roughly 3,600 city employees – but a few hundred additional “constitutional employees” such as sheriff’s deputies, the treasurer’s staff, and others, are out of the mayor’s scope of authority and will be exempt.
The mandate will also not apply to teachers and other employees of the Richmond School Board, as well as employees of the Richmond Ambulance Authority. However, in a statement Wednesday afternoon, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said they will be considering a vaccine mandate for staff as well.
As concerns and cases grow because of the Delta variant, Richmond is joining Fairfax County with the new requirement.
City employees who have been vaccinated have until August 18 to submit their vaccination documentation through the Virginia Department of Health. Those who have not been vaccinated are expected to have at least one dose of a vaccine by August 18 and be fully vaccinated by October 1.
Stoney said that after talking with department leaders, he estimates that currently about 40 to 50 percent of city employees are already fully vaccinated.
“We take this step not only to ensure the health and safety of our employees and their families but also to safeguard the comfort and well-being of residents, customers, visitors and the public at large,” Mayor Stoney said. “The vaccine is our greatest tool to save lives and truly beat this pandemic.”
Stoney said when appropriate, religious and medical exemptions will be allowed. Medical exemption requests must be signed by a licensed medical provider and religious exemption requests must be notarized, the city said in a release. Unvaccinated employees will still be expected to wear a mask and submit to regular COVID testing.
“There is time between now and August 18 for folks to get vaccinated,” Stoney said.
If an employee still chooses not to get vaccinated and doesn’t qualify for an exception, Stoney said HR “disciplinary actions will be taken.” However, he fell short of saying the employee would be fired.
At the news conference Wednesday, Stoney also thanked other Richmond businesses for implementing new policies as the Delta variant becomes more prominent in the state and caseloads grow.
For example, the Science Museum of Virginia recently reversed their mask requirements and Babes in Carytown is now requiring proof of vaccination to get in. “It’s my hope that many many more will join them,” Stoney said.