Screening News Update: Cali is Ready to Play, Vaccinate or be Fired, and Burner Phones in Hong Kong

Screening News Update: Cali is Ready to Play, Vaccinate or be Fired, and Burner Phones in Hong Kong

By Jennifer Gladstone

Youth sports get the go-ahead in CA, restaurant server in NYC loses her job over COVID-19 vaccine, and distrust hampers contact tracing in Hong Kong. The details in today’s EBI Screening News Update.

Time to Hit the Field in CA

Over the last several weeks, young athletes have been protesting in California trying to get back on the field. 

It seems they have finally been heard. 

After being banned for nearly a full year, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has loosened its restrictions on outdoor sports, which will allow thousands of kids to get back into the game. 

The original guidance said sports could not resume until a county’s COVID-19 case rate dropped to 4 per 100,000 residents. The new guidance says both school sports and rec leagues can hit the field as soon as their counties reach a case rate below 14 per 100,000. Nearly 30 of the state’s 58 counties meet that requirement right now.

The list of approved outdoor sports is long and ranges from lacrosse, soccer, and football to archery, fencing, and bocce ball. Practice and competitions are officially allowed to start on February 26th

Here are a few of the more specific rules laid out in the guidance:

  • Masks will still be required for everyone including athletes, coaches, and parents watching from the sidelines. 
  • For high contact sports like football, rugby, and water polo, all participants over the age of 13 will be required to take a weekly PCR or antigen test if their county is on the higher end of the case limit. 
  • Teams are only allowed to play one game in a day, so large tournaments are not allowed. 
  • Travel is limited to in-state only, and athletes may not travel more than 120 miles from home.

The new guidance does not apply to college or professional sports.

Vaccines Continue to Vex Employers

A New York City restaurant is getting flack for firing a waitress who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In an effort to keep thousands of restaurants from going under after nearly a year of shutdowns, the state has added servers, cooks, and delivery drivers to the list of those now eligible to get vaccinated.

Bonnie Jacobson asked her boss at the Red Hook Tavern for time to do some research to see if the vaccine would have any negative side effects on her fertility in the future. Instead of getting that time, Ms. Jacobson was fired. 

The owner of the restaurant told the New York Times that they are trying to figure out how to handle all of the COVID-19 challenges just like everyone else. He says they made a decision that they thought was best at the time, but have now decided to immediately update their policies to outline how employees can ask for an exemption. 

This brings up a huge question for employers across the country – do you demand employees get vaccinated before returning to work? 

Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, recently conducted a study of leaders in HR, real estate, law, compliance, and privacy. The study found 71% of these employers will encourage their teams to get vaccinated. Sixty-one percent say they will actively help employees figure out where and how to get the shots. Only 8% plan to require the vaccination before employees return to work. 

If you have questions about how to handle this big issue, check out our interview with Megan Mitchell and Ed Cadagin of Arnall Golden Gregory about what employers need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine and returning to work. 

Trusting Contact Tracing

Contact tracing has been a key tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19, but it involves sharing personal information with your employer, the businesses you visit, and even the government. That is not going over so well in Hong Kong where distrust of the newly authoritarian government has been growing over the last few years. 

The contact tracing system in Hong Kong goes well above and beyond many others. It starts with anyone traveling into Hong Kong. When you arrive, you are forced to wear a tracking bracelet that ensures you do not break your mandatory 14-day quarantine. If you do, you’ll end up in jail. 

As the government starts to ease restrictions on businesses, customers are being required to use the “Leave Home Safe” mobile app. Every time they enter a restaurant, a gym, or even a government office, they must scan a QR code with the app. If there is an outbreak, the information is used to notify anyone who could be at risk. 

Unfortunately, there is so much distrust of the government that citizens don’t want to put the app on their cellphones! That has led to a rush on cheap burner phones just to run the app. The Health Secretary Sophia Chan insists there are no privacy risks with the app, and that no third party will have any access to the information. Still, vendors say their sales of cheap, older phones have quadrupled since the government started requiring the use of the app.

Contact tracing doesn’t need to be complicated or risky. Check out how EBI’s Workplace Health & Safety can protect your business and your employee’s personal information. 

Screening News Network

About the Author

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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