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Some corporations looking to make COVID vaccine mandatory for employees; smaller business owners say they won’t

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 4:41 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Many doctors say the COVID-19 vaccine is the solution to the pandemic.

Some large corporations are requiring or paying employees to be vaccinated. But small business owners say they won’t step in like that.

Target, McDonald’s and Kroger are among the companies offering incentives for employees to get the COVID vaccine.

United Airlines is looking to make the vaccine mandatory for employees.

There’s been little federal guidance on whether employers should require the vaccine.

So, the choice is now left up to business owners, and many say that’s not a decision they’ll make for anyone else.

Ace Hardware Owner Jeff Hinz has about 60 employees between his two locations.

When the pandemic hit, his staff followed every health safety protocol.

“We sanitized. We hurt some of the electronics with over cleaning them. But, we did everything that we could do,” Hinz says.

But, the COVID vaccine is not a measure Hinz says he will enforce.

“Freedom. Freedom’s a big deal to me,” Hinz says.

Brant Anderson has worked for Hinz for three years and says he respects his boss’s decision.

“It’s my personal choice, my health. They should be able to protect themselves, protect others if they’d like to. Or, choose not to get the vaccine if it’s not something you feel safe doing,” Anderson said.

Hinz says it all boils down to choice.

“I don’t think I, as an employer, have any right to tell those employees what to do-- that they have to take a shot, that they have to do this. They have to stay home. Those are things I’m not willing to do,” Hinz says.

Like Hinz, Hair Garage Owner Anna Vetter says she’s followed every guideline.

“When they required masks, we required masks in here. When they weren’t requiring masks, like now, I let the stylists choose if they want to or not. If a client comes in wanting us to wear a mask we always ask them if they’d prefer their stylist to wear one,” Vetter said.

She says customer service is her top priority and choice is a part of that.

“I’ve never asked for any of their other vaccine records thus far. So, it’s my job to control what they do when they’re here, their services that they offer, times that they show up. I guess for me, I think that’s something for them and their families to decide,” Vetter said.

Vetter says she will continue doing what makes her employees and customers comfortable.

Both Hinz and Vetter say they will happily enforce policies based on what is mandated to keep everyone safe.

However, neither feel comfortable crossing the line by making decisions for others if it is not required.

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