The internal immunization policy that applies to all City of Red Deer staff is suspended starting today. The policy was originally implemented on October 5, 2021, as an added layer of protection to reduce transmission and minimize symptom severity to protect the healthcare system and maintain service levels.
“There has been a shift in the provincial pandemic response over the past several weeks to learning to live with the virus. The decision to suspend our internal policy is reflective of this shift,” said Interim City Manager Tara Lodewyk. “The policy contributed to the safety of our workplaces and lessened the impact of COVID-19 for staff, which resulted in minimal impacts to service delivery over the past five months. The decision to suspend rather than eliminate the policy speaks to our inability to foresee what COVID-19 may hand us in the future; it reserves the ability to re-implement the policy if the hazard level and situation warrants it.”
Since implementing the policy, 92.5 per cent of City staff provided proof of full immunization, the remaining 7.5 per cent chose to provide ongoing proof of negative rapid antigen testing. With the suspension of the policy, the ongoing rapid antigen testing is not required; however, The City will continue to encourage immunization recommendations made by the provincial and federal governments, including booster shots.
As of Monday, March 21, internal masking requirements for staff are also lifted unless required for specific jobs or worksites, or those who make the personal choice to continue to wear one. Staff who have worked from home since the beginning of the pandemic will also begin to move back into the traditional workspace. These adjustments to internal measures come three weeks following the province’s removal of mandatory masks in public places and lifting the work from home order.
“Safety and providing continuous services to our community is job one. That is why we are taking a cautious approach in easing of internal measures and shifting back into our offices,” said Lodewyk. “Each person experienced this pandemic differently, and this next phase that we’re moving into is no different. We will support our staff as we move into what we hope to be the post-pandemic phase.”
Other measures that will remain in place for staff include physical barriers and distancing, limited in-person gatherings for training and meetings, and the requirement to stay home when sick.
City staff were notified today of the suspension of the internal COVID-19 immunization policy.
The City will also continue to follow all health measures in place from the Province. Currently masks are still required on municipal and intra-provincial public transit for Albertans 13 years and older, and at AHS-operated and contracted facilities and all continuing care settings. For Transit services in Red Deer, this means that all riders over 13 years and Transit operators must continue to mask when on our buses.
The staff COVID-19 immunization policy is approved by the City Manager. Council has their own immunization policy and any changes to that policy would need to be discussed and decided upon at a Council meeting.
Please see attached FAQ - City suspends staff COVID-19 immunization policy (pdf)FAQ - City suspends staff COVID-19 immunization policy (pdf) for more information on the suspension of the policy.
For more information, please contact:
The City of Red Deer