Fayetteville council to consider weekly COVID testing for unvaccinated city employees

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Fayetteville City Council members next week will consider a resolution requesting Mayor Lioneld Jordan to require all city employees to take a weekly COVID-19 test unless they opt out with proof of full vaccination.

The idea was proposed by Council Member Matthew Petty, and if approved, would encourage the mayor to establish a new policy in which all city employees would be required to submit results of a rapid PCR or antigen test to the Human Resources Department every week. Any employee who voluntarily presents a vaccination card showing that they are fully vaccinated would be exempt from the new rule.

City Attorney Kit Williams said he believes the policy could be legally adopted, despite two recently passed state laws that ban vaccine requirements and passports for government employees.

A resolution to request that Mayor Lioneld Jordan require all city employees to submit weekly rapid PCR or antigen Covid-19 virus tests to Human Resources unless they have submitted proof of complete vaccination.

» Read the full resolution

Act 977 prohibits state and local governments from requiring coronavirus vaccinations.

Williams said Fayetteville’s proposal for weekly testing to protect city employees and citizens from exposure by an infected city employee, and is not a vaccine or immunization requirement.

Another legal concern is Act 1030 which bans state and local governments from requiring documentation showing that a person is vaccinated against Covid-19.

The law states that vaccination proof “shall not be a condition for entry, travel, education or services.”

Williams said as long as Fayetteville’s policy is absolutely clear that no employee is required to furnish a vaccination card, it should also hold up against the new state law.

Since the employees would be voluntarily showing proof of vaccination to be exempted from the weekly Covid-19 test, the new policy would be similar to the city’s earlier summer incentive program that paid $50 to any employee that voluntarily became fully vaccinated.

“If an employee is fully vaccinated but does not wish to show proof of vaccination, that employee is not required to show proof of vaccination, but like every other employee would need to be tested weekly,” Williams wrote.

If approved by the council, it would be up to Mayor Jordan to decide whether to institute the new policy.

Williams said it’s unclear whether asymptomatic employees could be tested for free.

“I have had two free tests myself, but I had a sore throat or other possible symptom,” Williams said. “It may be that the city will need to pay for such a test where the employee is symptom-free and without known contact of an infected person.”

Similarly, he said, there are a few uninsured employees who would also need to have their tests paid for by the city so that there are no costs imposed on any employees because of the new policy. Tests, he said, would be performed during work hours to ensure the measure doesn’t interfere with an employee’s free time.

Council Member Hertzberg said she’d like several questions answered by the time the council meets on Tuesday. She asked what the expected cost would be to the city to administer the policy, what consequences would be imposed for noncompliance, whether the policy would include an end date, if masks would still be required alongside weekly testing, if any exceptions would be made for employees who have previously been infected, and if on-site testing would be available for night shift police officers.

“We’re working on all of that,” said Jordan. “We’ll have you something by next Tuesday.”