Newark, NJ, Imposes Strict Vax Mandate With Few Exemptions
Vaccine mandates are becoming more common in New Jersey, for both public and private sector employers.
Newark is the latest to require all city workers, including police and firefighters, to have a vaccination or face termination. Mayor Ras Baraka signed an executive order imposing the strictest mandate of any municipality in New Jersey, so far.
According to the executive order obtained by NJ.com: beginning August 16, Newark City workers have to show their CDC vaccination card or face disciplinary action including termination. There is no provision that would allow workers to refuse the vaccine, and instead, be subject to regular COVID testing.
The issue of mandatory vaccinations has been a tough issue for many mayors. Hoboken was the first city to require it. Jersey City is rejecting a mandate.
East Brunswick announced a vaccine mandate earlier this month, then rescinded that order a few days later. The mayor, who is also a doctor, reasoned there was no difference in COVID transmission rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
Hudson County is not mandating vaccines for workers, but is offering cash prizes through a five-week lottery for employees who can prove vaccination status.
Governor Phil Murphy, while being generally supportive of vaccine mandates, has not issued a state-wide directive. He is requiring hospital workers and those who work in long-term care facilities and prisons to be vaccinated.
Vaccines for public events
Vaccine requirements are also becoming more common for public events. The Sea, Hear, Now Festival in Asbury Park was the first to require proof of vaccination status for attendees. Hoboken is requiring vaccine proof for those attending the Spaghetti Dinner Block Party later this month, and the city's Innovation festival being held in October.
Even as questions about the safety of outdoor gatherings are increasing, major venues for sporting events and concerts like MetLife stadium have yet to update the entry and attendance policy. For now, masks and vaccination requirements are not in effect for attending Giants and Jets games.
Vaccines in the workplace
A growing number of private employers are also considering making vaccines mandatory for workers as efforts continue to return to a more normal workplace. Major hospital groups like RWJ/Barnabas and Hackensack Meridian were among the first to require all workers and vendors to get COVID inoculations.
Given the significant number of people who are reluctant to get vaccinated, questions have arisen about whether someone who is fired for not getting the jab can collect unemployment. Due to a precedent-setting case in New Jersey in 2014 over a nurse's refusal to get the flu shot deemed eligible for unemployment benefits, employment law experts believe the same would apply to the refusal of the COVID shot.
Vaccines in school
While nearly a dozen New Jersey colleges and universities require students to be vaccinated to attend Fall classes, fewer require the same of their staff.
A group of students from Indiana University asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block that school's vaccine mandate. On Thursday, Justice Amy Coney Barrett refused.
No state-wide vaccine mandate is in place for K-12 students in New Jersey, but Governor Murphy hinted some type of mandate was likely for teachers and staff.