The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) announced a mandatory vaccination requirement for the agency's 800-plus employees. All employees, including those currently fully vaccinated are required to provide valid proof of vaccination.
Effective Monday July 26, the agency will require that unvaccinated employees receive their first vaccination shot no later than July 29 and must complete their second dose instructed by the vaccination administrator. The RTA has also re-instated mask requirements in all RTA offices regardless of individual vaccination status. Mask mandates in RTA vehicles have been in place since May 2020.
“Out an abundance of caution the RTA is requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees,” said Alex Wiggins, RTA CEO. “This decision was made to protect the health and safety of our transit operators, administrative employees, and our ridership as the region sees increased COVID-19 transmission rates among the unvaccinated individuals.”
The action builds on the existing COVID-19 safety protocols instituted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The RTA is also reinstating mandatory daily temperature checks and requiring regular onsite COVID-19 testing for all employees. The decision comes as the city is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases of the deadly and highly transmissible Delta variant. Vaccination exceptions will be made in the rare circumstances for RTA employees with documented medical or religious reasons. The RTA continues to provide all staff with PPE of masks, gloves, and sanitizer.
At the onset of the pandemic, RTA implemented safety protocols that included enhanced daily cleanings of the vehicle fleet, mask mandates, and the installation of safety barriers in all buses and streetcars to protect riders and frontline staff. The agency has also held several employee town hall style meetings to educate employees on the importance of vaccinations, COVID-19's impact on mental health, and the Delta variant.