Disney pauses COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Florida

The Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is seen at the theme park, Aug. 30, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Disney has paused its policy requiring Florida-based employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine following new laws passed by the state’s legislature last week that limit employers’ power to require vaccinations, according to a memo sent to employees. (AP Photo/John Raoux, file)

Disney has paused its policy requiring Florida-based employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine following new laws passed by the state’s legislature last week that limit employers’ power to require vaccinations, according to a memo sent to employees.

The company informed employees in a memo sent Friday that it has paused the requirement due to the state legislature’s action during a special session last week, and because of an appeal court’s temporary delay of federal vaccination guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“We believe that our approach to mandatory vaccines has been the right one as we’ve continued to focus on the safety and well-being of our Cast Members and Guests, and at this point, more than 90 percent of active Florida-based Cast Members have already verified that they are fully vaccinated. We will address legal developments as appropriate,” Disney said in a statement Monday afternoon.

Any Disney employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear face coverings, and observe social distancing and other safety protocols, according to the memo.

In addition, the company has paused consideration of vaccine exemption requests, the newspaper reported. Also, employees who have not finished the vaccine verification process will be considered unvaccinated for the time being, the memo said.

The company had given non-union workers until Sept. 28 to complete the vaccine course. Union represented employees reached a deal with the company and were given through Oct. 22 to provide proof of vaccination.

The bills signed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last Thursday require companies to allow workers who agree to regular testing and to wear protective gear to be exempt from required vaccinations. The new laws also allow religious or medical exemptions, which Disney had already included in its mandate.

Posted in Health, News, State

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