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Montclair city workers must wear COVID-19 vaccine stickers if they don’t wear masks

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The city of Montclair will require employees to wear stickers proving they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they don’t want to wear a mask while working.

Starting Monday, city workers who choose to shed their masks will be required to wear a sticker showing they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine, officials said.

In June, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted 5 to 1 to allow most fully vaccinated employees in many workplaces to stop wearing masks. However, Cal/OSHA also ruled that employers have to document the vaccination status of employees if they’re going to go without face coverings indoors, although they don’t have to retain copies of vaccine cards and employees can also self-attest to their inoculation status.

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Montclair City Manager Edward Starr said the city’s requirement is in line with Cal/OSHA’s directives.

In a City Council meeting this week, Councilman Ben Lopez took issue with the requirement, saying it’s a violation of employee privacy and could lead to potential lawsuits against the city.

“There are many in this organization taking a position of an employee’s right to privacy,” Lopez said at Monday’s meeting. “I clearly disagree with the sticker. It is like disclosing your medical history to anyone around you.”

Lopez had requested that the mandate not be imposed until the City Council could discuss it internally, but the policy was approved by the district attorney Wednesday, according to city officials. Montclair Mayor John Dutrey said discussions would continue in a closed session at the next council meeting on Aug. 2.

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The California Department of Public Health has recommended placing stickers on employee badges to help city and department staff identify those who have been fully vaccinated, Starr said. Last month, the state health department unveiled digital vaccine cards, a service that allows residents to access their vaccination status online and provides a QR code that can be scanned by venues and businesses requiring proof of vaccination.

According to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 emergency standards: “Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees not to wear face coverings indoors, but must document their vaccination status.”

Experts at the state and county levels have warned that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the highly infectious Delta variant are almost entirely among unvaccinated people. As of Thursday, 40% of San Bernardino County residents were fully vaccinated, and almost 46% had received at least one dose, according to data from The Times coronavirus tracker.

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