SAN DIEGO — A group challenged the City of San Diego's COVID-19 vaccine mandate in court and declared victory after the city settled the lawsuit and rescinded the mandate.
The Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids (PERK) represents hundreds of San Diego Police officers, firefighters, and city employees.
"It’s a wonderful victory," said San Diego Fire Captain Justus Norgord. "I’m excited, but I have mixed feelings. I’m also disappointed that we even had to bring the lawsuit."
The lawsuit was filed in January 2022.
Back then, PERK talked about how the mandate caused people to leave both the fire department and the police department.
According to the San Diego Police Officer's Association, 130 police officers resigned over the mandate, only two or three have returned to the force, and five or six are returning to their old jobs.
The SDPOA said letters were sent to officers several weeks ago inviting them to return. It expects more to return, but it's unclear how many will.
CBS 8 reached out to the city for comment. A spokesperson referred us to a previously released statement:
“Consistent with the State of California’s decision to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency effective Feb. 28, 2023, the City of San Diego will look to take similar action as the conditions requiring a local emergency declaration have steadily improved. As part of this action, we will also sunset our vaccine mandate for City employees due to a decrease in COVID-19-positive cases and hospitalizations, and 91 percent of City employees having been vaccinated.
“We find ourselves in this improved state because, by and large, San Diegans did their part in the fight against the pandemic by getting vaccinated and following public health guidance.
“We want to thank our first responders, medical professionals, and essential workers for keeping us safe and helping us navigate the pandemic. We will continue to treat COVID-19 with the seriousness it demands, but for now, we are pleased by the success of our efforts to protect the health and safety of our employees and the public.”
The proposal will end the COVID-19 state of emergency and sunset the City’s vaccine mandate for City employees on Feb. 28, 2023.
Friday afternoon, David Rolland, Deputy Director of Communications for Mayor Todd Gloria, released this:
“The Mayor and Council took action months ago to end the City’s vaccine mandate for employees. It did so in alignment with the end of the State of California’s COVID-19 emergency declaration and due to the fact that the vast majority of San Diegans, including City employees, did what was needed – they followed public health guidance and got vaccinated. It had nothing to do with a lawsuit.”
WATCH RELATED: How does COVID-19 compare to some of history's most deadly pandemics as of 2021?