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Island clubs require that employees get Covid vaccine shots

STORY BY RAY MCNULTY (Week of September 2, 2021)

Responding to the recent spike in COVID-19 infections locally and nationally, at least four of the island’s prominent clubs are requiring their employees be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.

Most also are mandating masks be worn when indoors on the premises.

The general managers at the John’s Island Club and Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club confirmed their policies, designed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus cases.

In addition, well-placed sources at Windsor and the Sea Oaks Beach & Tennis Club said the same protocols were being followed there.

“By Oct. 15, all of our staff must be completely vaccinated – and the same applies to members and guests,” John’s Island General Manager Brian Kroh said this week. “Everybody who comes into the club has to be vaccinated, except for people making drop-offs and deliveries.

“Even contractors who are doing work here must be vaccinated.”

Employees who choose to not get vaccinated – and who don’t provide legitimate medical or religious reasons for being exempt from the policy – will lose their jobs.

Kroh said masks are optional for those who are vaccinated, but he quickly added: “The staff is all wearing masks.”

Orchid Island General Manager Rob Tench said his club has adopted the same vaccination and masking policies.

The general managers at Windsor, Riomar and Quail Valley did not respond to messages left at their offices or on their mobile phones.

The Moorings Yacht & Country Club’s marketing director, Ursula Gunter, said the club currently does not have a vaccine mandate for employees.

Both Kroh and Tench said only a small percentage of their clubs’ workforce has pushed back against the vaccination requirement, but feedback from an overwhelming majority of members and employees has been positive.

“We’ve had some staffers who didn’t want to get vaccinated,” Kroh said. “Some of them have decided to get vaccinated. Some have said they’ll work until Oct. 15, then find other employment.

“Those who say they won’t get vaccinated are small in numbers.”

Tench said only about 5 percent of Orchid Island employees have refused to comply with the vaccination requirement.

“The members are certainly happy with the vaccination policy, because it makes them feel safer when they come to the club,” Tench said. “Most of the employees are happy about it, too, because they know the people they’re working with have been vaccinated.

“There’s some pain for some staffers, but overall it’s a positive thing.”