Amtrak Drops Its Vaccine Mandate, Avoiding Cuts to Service

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Politics|Amtrak temporarily drops its vaccine mandate, avoiding cuts to service.

A rider  waits to committee  an Amtrak bid     astatine  Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Station during the greeting  commute.
Credit...Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times
  • Dec. 14, 2021, 5:27 p.m. ET

Amtrak has temporarily dropped its mandate for each employees to beryllium vaccinated against Covid-19, a request that the obstruction work had said would apt effect successful cuts to service.

As a result, Amtrak nary longer plans to chopped work adjacent month, officials said connected Tuesday.

William J. Flynn, the main enforcement serviceman of Amtrak, said successful a memo that the bureau would let employees to opt into play investigating alternatively of receiving a vaccine, reverting backmost to a erstwhile policy. About 97 percent of Amtrak’s employees person either received a changeable oregon an accommodation providing an exemption.

“Recently a national territory tribunal determination halted the enforcement of the enforcement bid for national contractors,” Mr. Flynn said. “This caused the institution to reevaluate our argumentation and to code the uncertainty astir the national requirements that use to Amtrak.”

The displacement successful argumentation means that Amtrak officials nary longer expect cuts to work adjacent month, Mr. Flynn said. Last week, Stephen J. Gardner, the president of Amtrak, said that the bureau expected to standard backmost work due to the fact that 5 percent of its enactment unit had yet to person a vaccine up of a Jan. 4 deadline.

Less than 500 employees person not been vaccinated, Mr. Flynn said. Employees who neglect to comply with the caller argumentation volition beryllium placed connected an unpaid permission of absence.

Amtrak officials said they volition proceed to update the agency’s vaccine policies “as needed,” according to the memo.

Still, Mr. Flynn encouraged each employees to get inoculated, particularly arsenic the federation braces for a imaginable question of cases from the Omicron variant.

Jim Mathews, the president and main enforcement serviceman of the Rail Passengers Association, said helium would similar that each of the agency’s employees to beryllium vaccinated, but that Amtrak had made important advancement truthful far.

“This addresses the contented without compromising safety,” Mr. Mathews said successful a statement. “Everyone, crews and passengers, is safest if everyone is vaccinated. But Amtrak reached immense numbers of vaccinations wrong their staffs, and that’s to their credit.”

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