In December, as we have reported, the federal government issued guidelines that allow employers, including co-op and condo boards, to require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine – provided the boards make exceptions for religious or medical reasons. Can boards also require outside workers who enter the building – such as contractors, delivery personnel and nannies – to get vaccinated before they’re granted entry?
That’s a little trickier, replies the Ask Real Estate column in The New York Times. Many buildings already have rules and restrictions in place for vendors that go beyond state guidelines, requiring outside workers to fill out questionnaires about their recent travel and their current health before entering. Additionally, contractors often have to use prescribed elevators and stay in the apartment they’re renovating all day, without leaving for lunch. Leni Morrison Cummins, a member at the law firm Cozen O’Connor, sees this as a natural place to eventually add on a vaccine requirement, especially since buildings aren’t obligated to let vendors in anyway – and many buildings did temporarily ban outside workers last year during the pandemic’s first surge.
But given the complications of mandating a vaccine for permanent building staffers – not the least of which is the erratic rollout of the various vaccines – some lawyers feel that mandating a vaccine for outside workers might be going a step too far, both logistically and legally. Such a rule would put boards in the position of policing the health of everyone who enters the building, says Phyllis Weisberg, a partner at the law firm Armstrong Teasdale. “That,” she adds, “is a very uncomfortable position for a board to be in and may violate the law.”
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