MELFORT — Melfort council has passed a policy requiring all city employees to provide verification of a negative COVID-19 test once a week or proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
While the policy begins Oct. 1, the requirement to comply begins Nov. 22.
“The purpose of the proof of COVID-19 vaccination policy is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and provide a safe environment for employees and the public to access and use city facilities,” said Glenn George, Melfort’s mayor.
“The implementation date of Nov. 22, will allow time for anyone who is not yet vaccinated to choose to do so before the policy comes into effect.”
Melfort council approved the policy in a special council meeting on Sept. 29. It will apply to all city employees, staff, interns, and students, council and contractors including any contractor personnel.
Those who choose to provide a weekly test rather than proof of vaccination will be required to obtain their test from a third party supplier, as the city will not be conducting the tests directly.
Due to privacy reasons, the city is not aware of the number of employees, if any, who have not been vaccinated.
Earlier this month the provincial government announced that they will be adding a proof of vaccination or negative test policy that will be implemented for all Government of Saskatchewan ministry, crown and agency employees beginning Oct. 1.
Brent Lutz, Melfort’s director of development, planning and community relations, said their policy is following suit.
“The premier encouraged all other employers in the province to consider doing the same,” Lutz said. “So the city, on that advice, has been looking at how we go about instituting that and come in line with the provincial guidelines in regards to that.”
According to stats released by the Government of Saskatchewan in early September, 84 per cent of all new cases and hospitalizations in Saskatchewan in August were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
Out of the 4,596 cases reported in August, 3,840, or 83.5 per cent, were unvaccinated or tested positive within three weeks of receiving their first vaccination. Four hundred and twenty-four cases, or 9.2 per cent, were partially vaccinated with one dose, while 756 cases, or 16.4 per cent, were fully vaccinated. Of the 756 cases with a second dose, 17.6 per cent (133) had comorbid conditions.
The provincial government, as well as the City of Melfort, is encouraging all residents who are eligible for immunization to receive both doses as soon as they are able.