Kitchener, Waterloo mandate COVID-19 vaccines for staff, volunteers

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The Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo have implemented COVID-19 vaccine policies for all staff and volunteers.

Kitchener's policy comes into effect immediately, and Waterloo staff will have until Sept. 27 to declare their vaccination status.

“This pandemic has been difficult, and we have all faced many challenges. Every day it seems new measures are needed to address the serious health implications associated with COVID-19. The mandatory vaccination policy is designed to protect the health of our employees and visitors to our city locations,” said Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky in a news release. “Our approach is consistent with what our neighbouring municipalities are doing, and our goal is to prevent potential illness in the workplace.”

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have said our primary goal is to protect the health and safety of the Kitchener citizens we serve, and the staff who serve them,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic in another release. “As the provider of important citizen-facing programs and services as well as being a large employer, the City of Kitchener will continue to focus on making policies that always ensure safe environments for both residents and staff.”

Waterloo's policy also includes elected officials and contractors.

Any new hires in Kitchener will need to be fully vaccinated as a condition of their employment.

Anyone who isn't vaccinated or chooses not to disclose their vaccination status will need to undergo regular antigen testing and education on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines.

Both cities said exemptions will be made for specific medical conditions outlined by the province.

On Monday, the region announced all staff would need to provide proof of vaccination by Sept. 27 or undergo regular antigen testing.