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COVID vaccine mandate put on pause for city employees after AZ AG calls it illegal

Posted at 2:43 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 20:41:21-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The City of Tucson announced Tuesday that it will be putting its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its employees on pause after the state's attorney general declared it illegal.

RELATED: AZ Attorney General: 'Tucson's COVID-19 vaccine mandate violates state law'

In a statement, City Manager Michael Ortega said the city is evaluating the mandate's legal position.

“I believe that the City vaccine policy is an important and necessary step to protect our staff and the community,” said City Manager Michael Ortega. “Until we have a better understanding of our legal position in relation to today’s report, I have instructed staff to pause on the implementation of the policy.”

RELATED: Tucson City Council passes vaccine mandate for city employees

Mayor Regina Romero also responded to AG Mark Brnovich's declaration:

“It is deeply unfortunate, but not surprising, that the Attorney General is prioritizing his political ambitions over his responsibility to objectively interpret the law,” said Mayor Regina Romero. “This report reads more as a campaign speech filled with political commentary rather than a fact-based legal opinion. We are currently reviewing our options, and Mayor and Council will need to provide direction as to how we proceed from here.”

Brnovich says the city has 30 days to rescind or amend its vaccine mandate, or it could lose millions in funding.

“Tucson’s vaccine mandate is illegal and the city could be held liable for attempting to force government employees to take it against their beliefs,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “COVID-19 vaccinations should be a choice, not a government mandate.”

Ward 6 Council Member Steve Kozachik said he was not surprised by the decision.

"No surprise. I mean that's what Brnovich does," Kozachik said. "He and Ducey are locked arm and arm on these things. He outta set aside his political science book and open up a real science book."

Kozachik added that they will be evaluating their legal situation in the coming month.