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Arena Holdings, publisher of titles such as Business Day and the Sunday Times, will make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for all its employees and contractors, it said in a memo to staff on Monday.

Arena, which employs about 850 people, joins a host of companies that have taken a firmer stance on inoculations. The policy, which is effective from the beginning of March, will require staff without a vaccination certificate to show negative PCR test, undertaken at their own cost, weekly.  

“In terms of its health and safety obligations, the company must endeavour to eliminate, or, if that is not possible, minimise, as far as reasonably practicable, the risk of exposure to infection from Covid-19 in the workplace,” the company said. 

Health and life insurer Discovery in 2021 became the first listed company in SA to institute a mandatory vaccination policy, a move that it later credited with boosting take-up among staff from barely a fifth to 94% in a period of three months. It was followed by a host of companies, including hospital groups Mediclinic and Life Healthcare, as well as insurers Sanlam and Old Mutual. 

While mandates have faced some resistance, companies globally have been convinced by evidence showing that the unvaccinated were much more likely to fall seriously ill or die from Covid-19, while boosting vaccinations is seen as crucial to opening up the economy and preventing future lockdowns.


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