Workers in Newfoundland and Labrador health-care and education sectors who chose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 can return to work as early as Wednesday, as the provincial government lifts its vaccination requirements for public servants.
The provincial government announced last week it would be lifting the requirement last week, and effective Wednesday, the province's largest health authority, school district and university are following suit.
Eastern Health says the policy was put in place to protect patients, health-care workers and the community at large. The health authority says the vaccine mandate could be reinstated if the province's COVID-19 epidemiology worsens.
The lifting of the mandate means 21 unvaccinated Eastern Health employees who are on leave without pay can return to work as early as Wednesday, according to the health authority.
Memorial University and the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District are lifting their vaccine requirements as well.
In statements to CBC News, Memorial said 99 per cent of students and employees were vaccinated, leaving only a small number of people who were placed on leave due to their vaccination status. CBC News reported in February that 15 employees were placed on leave, including three teaching staff.
The university also said it's lifting its maks requirements on campus effective Wednesday. The school says wearing a mask is still strongly encouraged as per Public Health advice, and masks will still be provided by the school for those who want to continue wearing one.
The school district said about 35 people were initially placed on leave, but most of them returned after being granted a vaccine exemption.
The district says the number of employees still on leave is too small to be released because of potential privacy concerns.