Bethel mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for city workers

(Dean Swope)

The City of Bethel has mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for all city workers. All Bethel city employees, consultants, contractors, and volunteers must receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. City administrators announced the new policy on Sept. 13 in an email to city workers.

Bethel City Manager Pete Williams said that of the city’s 105 employees, only 17 are unvaccinated. He said that he expects some of those employees to quit their jobs over the new rules. The city will consider medical and religious exemption applications.

City employees can receive medical exemptions if they can prove they have a valid medical condition that would be made worse by the vaccine. The exemption must be signed by a licensed health care worker. 

The city is also offering a religious exemption application, which will then be reviewed by the Human Resources Department. If approved, the city said that it could still reassign the unvaccinated workers. 

An unvaccinated Bethel police officer called the new rules “forced termination.” Officer Skyler Smith said that he will not receive the vaccine for religious reasons and is planning to apply for a religious exemption. Smith described his beliefs as Christian non-denominational.

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