Two actors have left one of America’s most popular soap operas after refusing to abide by a set vaccination mandate.
The actors, Steve Burton and Ingo Rademacher, were fixtures in ABC’s “General Hospital,” a long-running day drama set in the fictional city of Port Charles, NY.
About one in five American adults has not received a single dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Mr. Burton and Mr. Rademacher was outspoken opponents of a coronavirus vaccine mandate that applied to part of the set in which actors work unmasked, known in the industry as Zone A. The mandate went into effect on November 1st.
“Unfortunately, ‘General Hospital’ has let me go because of the vaccine mandate,” said Mr. Burton, who tested positive for the virus in August and filmed his final episode on October 27, in an Instagram video Tuesday.
“I applied for my medical and religious exemptions and both of these were denied – which you know hurts,” he added. “But it’s also about personal freedom for me. I do not think anyone should lose their livelihood over this.”
Mr. Rademacher’s departure from the show was announced earlier this month. He had also refused to abide by the show’s vaccine mandate. “I will stand with you to fight for medical freedom,” he wrote in an Instagram post.
Sir. Rademacher has also been criticized on social media in recent weeks for making comments that his critics perceived as transphobic, a proposal he has vehemently rejected.
Representatives of ABC declined to comment on the record. Publicists for the actors could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Other Hollywood productions have imposed similar on-set mandates, but there is no universal vaccination requirement for people working in film and television.
“General Hospital” has been on the air since 1963. Its episodes were filmed weeks before they aired.
Mr. Rademacher played the character Jasper “Jax” Jacks in the show for 25 years. In his last episode, which aired on Monday, the character – spoiler alert – said he would return to Australia.
“I’m a little out of the way with everyone in Port Charles right now,” the character said. Some fans interpreted it as a reference to the actor’s real-life tensions with his teammates.
In the same episode, Mr. Burton’s character, Jason Morgan, trapped in one tunnel collapse.
Mr. Burton said in his Instagram video on Tuesday that he hoped the show’s vaccine mandate would be lifted so he could end his career as Jason Morgan.
“And if not,” he added, “I will take this experience, move on, and be eternally grateful.”