LOS ANGELES (CNS) — All employees at federal courts in the Central District of California, which includes Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, must be vaccinated against COVID-19 under a new policy.

"The policy is necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of the court's employees, volunteers and contractors, as well as members of the public and others within the court community," according to a notice Friday from the court clerk's office.

The policy takes effect immediately, but all court employees — including judges, judiciary contractors and volunteers — will have until Oct. 15 to complete a vaccination attestation form. The vaccination requirement will apply to all employees "regardless of telework status."

The policy allows for medical and religious exemptions, and such requests must be made by Oct. 15. Anyone granted such an exemption or awaiting a decision on a request must provide proof of a negative COVID test prior to returning to a court facility. Once they're onsite, they will have to submit to twice-weekly testing.