Amtrak drops vax mandate for employees, won’t have to cut service

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Amtrak drops vax mandate for employees, won't have to cut service

Amtrak is suspending its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees — and now doesn’t anticipate needing to slash service next year, the transit agency announced Tuesday.

The railroad entity told its workers in a memo that it would allow those who were not vaccinated to get tested as an alternative.

“Amtrak will continue to update its vaccine policy as needed and follow the latest health and safety guidance,” the company said in the memo obtained by The Post.

Amtrak said the change was in response to a court order halting the enforcement of a White House mandate that required government contractors to ensure employees get vaccinated by Jan. 4, with exemptions only granted for medical or religious reasons.

“This caused the company to reevaluate our policy and to address the uncertainty about
the federal requirements that apply to Amtrak,” the quasi-government agency said.

vaccines
Amtrak said the court order halting President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for all federal contractors is what spurred the policy change.
dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

Currently, about 96 percent of Amtrak employees are considered fully vaccinated, the company said.

Amtrak President Stephen Gardner had previously warned that if more employees didn’t comply with the mandate, the company would have to cut service next year. But the company said Tuesday that with the latest changes to the rules, a reduction in service isn’t necessary.

“After reviewing our system service plans in light of these changes, we do not anticipate having system-wide service impacts in January,” the company said.

Amtrak President Stephen Gardner previously warned services would have to be reduced if employees didn’t comply with the mandate, but with the rule change reducing service won’t be necessary.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday noted that the vaccination-policy change is in line with what the federal government had been recommending for private-sector companies.

“Certainly vaccination or testing is something we have been recommending from the federal government, so I don’t think we have any concern,” Psaki told reporters at a press briefing.

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says this rule is in accordance with the White House’s recommendations for private sector businesses.
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