YMCA imposes vaccine passport, cites Burlington mask ordinance

By Guy Page

In response to the Dec. 2 passage of Burlington mask mandate, the YMCA on College Street in Burlington is denying access to anyone without proof of vaccination – even those wearing masks, according to a Friday, Dec. 3 statement from Y management to members.

At least one parent of a teenage child denied access to the Y is furious. 

The Y cites an “exception” clause in the municipal mask mandate that allows public places to check for vax passports.

“As most of you have likely heard, last night the City of Burlington passed an ordinance relating to masking and vaccination that impacts the operations of our Y. That ordinance goes into effect tomorrow. 

“This City requires that people entering public places must be masked. An exception exists for “gyms” that allows us to permit visitors to enter and use our facility unmasked if we “actively screen and limit who may enter [the] premises to only Persons with established proof of vaccination…” 

“To comply with the city ordinance, starting tomorrow all who enter our facility at 298 College Street will be required to provide proof of vaccination.” 

The mother of a 17-year-old boy – who declined to be named due to concern about blowback on her child – said the exemption actually prompts the use of vaccine passports.

“When I read the BTV draft rule, I zeroed in on how the exemption would encourage vaccine passports, and of course on Dec. 3rd my son was barred from the YMCA because he is not vaccinated. It just infuriates me,” she said. “And it’s so mind-boggling that the YMCA of all organizations with their statements on inclusivity and community don’t see how heinously wrong vaccine passports are.”

Gov. Phil Scott disagreed. “I look at the Y, and they have the right to impose any stipulations they wish,” he said at today’s press conference. He noted that Global Foundries has announced it will require all employees to be vaccinated by Jan. 4. GF employees who fail to vaccinate will be out of work by March, according to news reports.

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12 replies »

  1. How is this result unexpected? Burlington has been at the forefront of fear-mongering and hand-wringing over Covid-19 since March 2020. It is representative of the demographics of Burlington.
    Unfortunately, it may prove a good business practice- as probably the majority of Y members are “vaxxed”. This may change when the definition of “Vaxxed” requires 3 and more doses.
    Until Vermont specifically moves from Vax-Test-Mask-Test-Test to something resembling a treatment based solution to combat illness from SARS-CoV-2, this will be the norm.
    I am intrigued by the refusal of State Government to ignore any possibility of treatment options, other than monoclonal antibody treatment. No State or Federal official has given a satisfactory answer to this question. I suspect that the Federal Government policies, with the vast flow of tax dollars to the states is driving the resistance to dealing with SARS-CoV-2 instead of fearing it.

  2. do not like the government trying to make rules but i feel a business should be free to set rules to use their product

    • I think refusing service based on vaccination status is every bit as despicable as refusing service based on race or religion. But doing the latter has been statutorily prohibited since 1964.

      What the YMCA in Burlington is doing is probably illegal. If their rule is due to safety concerns (albeit unscientific, arbitrary ones), then people with natural immunity to COVID via infection (which is far superior to the vaccine) should be exempt from their mandate.

      • I wonder what the National YMCA thinks of the vax passports? Unlike a for-profit “gym,” the “Y” is a charity. But in Burlington, it only “helps” vaccinated people. Do they allow exceptions for someone who, say, is getting cancer treatments and isn’t vaccinated at the moment? The idea that everyone who isn’t vaxxed is just defiant is not true. And if they allow medical exceptions (and those people can wear masks to prevent spread,) how are the unvaxxed for ANY reason different? The masks only work if you are unvaxxed for an “approved” reason? Hmmm. I just read a case yesterday from Oklahoma where the judge said the school district can’t force the unvaxxed students to quarantine at home because the vaccinated can also spread the virus and the school was unable to provide a rationale basis for discriminating against the unvaxxed. Basically, the school was violating the 14th amendment. Interesting. I think these rules and mandates will all eventually fall. Eventually.

  3. I do not understand Scott’s or the YMCA’s logic. The supreme court has ruled that Biden can not mandate private sector businesses to require employees to take an experimental vaccine as a means of employment. Biden’s mandate was deemed unconstitutional. Due to this Supreme Court Ruling, why would any of our leaders or businesses think they have the legal authority to mandate such a policy. Obviously, these entities no longer support America, as a Constitutional Republic, nor our governing documents and Constitutional rights.

  4. Hi,

    Another parent here who had their child just barred from the Y in BTV.

    Any lawyers looking to take this on? I’ll join a class action lawsuit.

  5. Rather than assuming, I’ll ask the question: Does the ymca get funding from government, whether it be local, state or federal?

    • Not sure about funding directly, but they are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity, which is incompatible with their latest racially discriminatory vaccine mandate.

  6. I’m disgusted and dumbfounded that the YMCA of Burlington would institute such a blatantly racist policy. According to the latest vaccination rates from the Vermont Department of Health, only 20% of white Vermonters will be denied access to their “all inclusive facility” by this mandate. 26% of Black Vermonters will be denied access, 29% of Asian Vermonters and a shocking 72% of Native American Vermonters will be denied access to the YMCA’s facilities. Stopped at the door and refused entry.

    Not only is this new mandate casually and carelessly systemically racist, and incompatible with IRS 501(c)(3) tax-advantaged status, it is entirely inconsistent with their stated Mission Statement: “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

    Exactly which “Christian principle” is at play here?