When COVID-19 first emerged on the scene as a threat to global health two years ago, policymakers around the world scrambled to minimize the damage from the virus including enforcing mask mandates and lockdowns. When vaccines became widely available roughly six months later, mandates concerning them quickly appeared as well with measures such as controversial vaccine passports and “no jab, no job” policies. It was inevitable that different viewpoints on these matters would arise and that a clear and deep division on what was the right thing to do would develop.
When the Biden administration in the U.S. tried to increase the nation’s vaccination rate by enacting a vaccinate or test policy for companies that employed more than 100 people, it was not unsurprising that the mandate was challenged in court. The mandate was quickly overturned – this has had a ripple effect in other parts of the world.
Furthermore, with the new Omicron variant, we are seeing a version of the virus that is extremely more transmissible but also dramatically less virulent. This means that many more people are contracting the virus but the numbers ending up hospitalized and dying are considerably less (with symptoms being more similar to those of a cold or flu). The Omicron variant also appears to be much better at evading vaccine immunity, attacking the bronchus rather than the lower lungs. Because of this, many who are vaccinated – and even boosted – have been contracting and transmitting the virus.
And while statistically, the vaccinated are still considerably less likely to become severely ill from the virus, a combination of decreased confidence in the vaccine, reduced virulence of the virus, uncertainty with government regulations – and likely plain old pandemic fatigue, have caused many here in Canada to call for the end of vaccine mandates and other pandemic related regulations.
The Trucker Freedom Convoy
In response to a Canadian federal mandate that truckers would have to be fully vaccinated to avoid quarantining after cross-border runs – and later as a protest against all pandemic related mandates – citizens from across Canada organized to protest in Ottawa.
The sheer size, organization, and peacefulness of the convoy captured the attention of the world and soon similar protests were organized in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK – with others being planned in other parts of Europe and the US.
And whether you agree with the convoy mission and its tactics or not, it is a clear signal that the attitude toward vaccination mandates and pandemic measures may well be changing.
So, what happens now?
Already, many countries around the globe have begun to drop their pandemic related mandates and many world leaders are now saying that we will have to live with COVID-19 just as we live with the seasonal flu.
Undoubtedly, there will continue to be court challenges and lawsuits by those who feel they have been unfairly treated by their government and by their employers. How these cases will play out, remains to be seen.
How Minken Employment Lawyers Can Help
If you are an employer and have questions about your rights and responsibilities concerning COVID-19 mandates and policies or if you are facing legal challenges regarding those policies, we can help. Contact us today to speak to one of our experienced employment lawyers or call us at 905-477-7011 for assistance prior to taking any steps that may expose you to legal liability.
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Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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