MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced on Tuesday, Aug. 24 that COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for city of Milwaukee employees.
The decision follows reviews by both the Milwaukee Health Department and the city’s Department of Employee Relations, a news release indicated.
The new requirement for general city employees – including temporary employees and interns – is effective as of Wednesday, Sept. 1. Unvaccinated employees will have until Friday, Oct. 29 to produce proof of vaccination.
Employees who do not comply with the requirements will face an initial unpaid suspension for up to 30 days, and continued failure to comply will result in separation from employment, the news release said.
The decision follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) formal approval on Monday of the Pfizer vaccine.
The city of Milwaukee remains in discussion with public employee unions about the applicability of new requirements to members. As of now, the news release said, the vaccination requirements do not apply to union-represented employees. The Milwaukee police and fire departments are union-represented.
"We have an obligation to provide a safe workplace for all employees, and a vaccinated workforce is part of that," Barrett said. "A vaccinated workforce also helps protect members of the public who interact with employees, as well as family members of city employees."
City employees will receive up to two hours of paid leave to receive vaccinations. The new policy includes provisions for employees requesting exemption from the vaccination requirement based on specific medical or religious criteria.
The Milwaukee Health Department provides free COVID-19 vaccinations at the Northwest Health Center located near 76th and Mill and at the Southside Health Center located near 23rd and Mitchell. Both locations are open on Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Additionally, the Milwaukee Health Department will host vaccination clinics for city employees at various locations. Hours and locations of the vaccination clinics will be provided in the coming days. Employees can also go to their health care provider or local pharmacies for free administration of the vaccine.
Oriental Theatre requirements
Built in 1927, the historic Oriental Theatre on Milwaukee's east side has seen its share of change over the past 94 years. However, the past year may have been one of the most difficult.
"It’s been a very challenging time for the cinema industry," said Jonathan Jackson, Milwaukee Film CEO.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Oriental Theatre to close its doors for the first time since World War II. It is now reopening with new COVID-19 rules. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result within 72 hours will be required. The establishment is also requesting that all patrons wear masks. All employees are vaccinated.
"By taking these precautions we can help ensure this is a safe environment," Jackson said. "We know this industry will thrive again."
The Oriental Theatre is one of many trying to close the curtain on a dark time.