Winnipeg mandates COVID-19 vaccine for front-line city staff

The City of Winnipeg is making vaccination against COVID-19 a requirement for front-line city staff.

In a release Tuesday the city said all city employees who have ongoing contact with vulnerable Winnipeggers, including children under 12, and those who work in high-risk settings with direct, ongoing contact with the public, must be fully-vaccinated against the virus by mid-November.

Read more: Manitoba reports 41 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths since Friday

“The health and safety of our residents and our employees has always been foremost in our minds as we continue to adapt to the changing COVID-19 landscape,” said Winnipeg CAO, Michael Jack, in a release.

“Requiring our front-line employees to get their COVID-19 vaccination adds one more layer of protection for everyone, especially those who are still unable to get vaccinated.”

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The city says the mandate will extend to staff working in public safety, community protection, recreation services, public transportation, and public-facing customer service roles.

All other city employees will be encouraged to be vaccinated and masks and social distancing will continue to be required at all city-operated facilities, Jack said.

Read more: Manitoba yet to post data on COVID-19 cases in schools

Employees required to be vaccinated will have until Nov. 15 to be fully vaccinated, meaning they will need to have their first dose no later than Sept. 30 and their second by Oct. 28.

The city says it will start collecting vaccine status information from affected staff next week. It says its working with the province to set up mobile vaccination clinics for employees.

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“We want to ensure that access to a vaccine is not a barrier for any staff that are required to have the vaccine, and we will make every reasonable effort to ensure vaccine clinics are available at or near their workplace,” said Jack.

The release says the city is “continuing to explore” options for employees who aren’t vaccinated, including frequent testing or “redeployment to a role that is not in contact with the public.”

Read more: COVID-19: Manitoba brings back mask mandate, requires vaccination for some government employees

Late last month Manitoba announced all government employees working with vulnerable people must be fully-vaccinated by Oct. 31 — or face regular testing.

Affected provincial staff will include health-care providers, teachers, early-learning providers, prison guards and all government employees, including members of the legislature.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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