Bangor Savings Bank will only hire people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine and will require unvaccinated employees to get weekly tests for the virus beginning on Sept. 7, Jaclyn Fish, the bank’s community relations manager, said Friday.
The move by one of Maine’s largest banks and one of Bangor’s largest employers comes as the delta variant continues to spread across Maine and the rest of the country, driving private employers to place new requirements on their staffs.
“With COVID-19 spreading at an alarming rate, we are continuing our efforts to help keep our communities safe,” Fish said.
The bank has 65 branches and four business offices, primarily in Maine, but also some in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Its Maine locations stretch from York to Houlton.
The bank also is requiring all employees, including vaccinated ones, to wear masks at locations in areas with high or substantial transmission of COVID-19, in line with U.S. Center for Disease Control guidance. It is recommending that all customers do the same.
As of Friday, the U.S. CDC was recommending that all people wear masks indoors in seven of Maine’s counties: Aroostook, Cumberland, Lincoln, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo and York.
Bangor Savings Bank has more than 1,100 employees — with more than 85 percent vaccinated as of late June. Though it isn’t requiring employees to be vaccinated, it is offering to pay $500 to any employees who get inoculated, a policy that CEO Bob Montgomery-Rice has said had encouraged many employees to get shots.
The cost of paying employees to get vaccinated is minor compared to the cost of temporarily closing offices due to outbreaks, or of other preventative measures such as more frequent intensive cleanings, Montgomery-Rice said.
The bank’s pay-to-vaccinate policy is similar to one adopted by the town of South Thomaston, which has said it will pay $200 to “residents, workers or frequent visitors” who can show proof of having been vaccinated between now and Sept. 12.