LEBANON, Ohio — Lebanon city workers won’t be required to have a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, and residents won’t be discriminated or prohibited from entering the city building based on their vaccination status.
Lebanon City Council adopted an emergency ordinance last week to codify that policy. Vice Mayor Mark Messer, who presided over the meeting due to the absence of Mayor Amy Brewer, said, “medical freedom should not be mandated.”
The ordinance, which took immediate effect after the vote, allows workers to decide for themselves whether to get a vaccine. Council members said they believe the legislation will protect individual rights in connection with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and that the privacy rights of citizens remain protected, specifically health care information.
Their vote cane as President Joe Biden issued executive orders that would require vaccines for employers with more than 100 workers or frequent testing. Lebanon City Attorney Mark Yurick said the regulations for Biden’s executive order are still being drafted, but that he doesn’t believe it will affect city governments.
The city ordinance also does not allow the city to implement any type of vaccine passport program or mandate to require or request someone obtain a vaccination. It also says individuals have a right to expect that their health care choices shall not result in discriminatory treatment. The proposed ordinance said the policy will remain in effect in all circumstances, including emergencies.
Councilman Doug Shope said he “greatly objects” to mandating vaccinations for anyone.
The state recorded more than 7,747 new cases on Wednesday. In the past three weeks, the state is averaging 6,037 cases a day. Ohio also reported 292 new hospitalizations on Wednesday and 21,265 people have died in the state from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Council approved a resolution in support of health care workers, first responders, teachers and citizens’ individual rights during the COVID-19 pandemic “who are being coerced and threatened by an overreaching government.” It also supports an individual’s right whether or not to get vaccinated.
A second resolution also requests the Ohio Department of Health to revisit the quarantine guidelines.
Concerns listed in the council resolution include: The mental health of people that become socially isolating healthy people; minimizing disruptions to the integrity of education, economic, civic and social systems so people are not put into unnecessarily difficult situations to provide services, products and experiences; healing distrust and anger in the community due to the “one-size fits all quarantine strategy being used;” and supporting families and businesses that are disrupted when people get sent home for weeks at a time.
The resolution also supports the pilot program developed by the school superintendents of Warren County to modify quarantine rules to keep more students in the classroom.