American professional basketball team the Miami Heat says all its employees must be in the process of becoming fully vaccinated by September 1, as the Delta variant drives another COVID-19 surge in Florida.
The Heat says employees who don’t make the vaccination requirements will not be allowed at work
They say the live events industry depends upon prioritising safety of players and fans
The rule comes amid a political fight in Florida over school mask mandates as cases surge in children
Exemptions will be available for those awaiting a second dose of a two-shot vaccine or those with “a qualifying medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief,” the team said on Friday.
Employees who have not met vaccination requirements by that date will not be allowed at work, and if they remain non-compliant eventually will be considered to have resigned.
The Heat said in a statement that the “stability and success of the live events industry hinges on prioritising safety — of our players, our employees, our partners, our fans, our vendors and the media.
“One of the ways we can substantially minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission is to ensure our entire staff is vaccinated,” The Heat said.
The Heat have not yet revealed their plans for welcoming fans to home games this season.
COVID politics deepen in Florida amid surge
Greater numbers of American children have been swept up in a wave of coronavirus infections driven by the Delta variant, causing renewed anxiety for parents and a bitter political fight as schools prepare to reopen within weeks.
Much of the surge is concentrated in the south-eastern state of Florida, where some school districts are defying an order by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis forbidding mask mandates, in the latest political twist in the health crisis.
The political fight has made its way to the White House, with US President Joe Biden this week telling recalcitrant state leaders: “If you’re not going to help, get out of the way.”