Steve Burton Confirms General Hospital Exit Due to COVID Vaccine Mandate: 'This Is About Personal Freedom to Me'

Two-time Daytime Emmy winner Steve Burton‘s latest General Hospital run has come to an end, the soap opera vet confirmed in a video posted to Instagram.

Burton said that he and ABC, like co-star Ingo Rademacher before him, arrived at an impasse due to the COVID vaccine mandate which took effect at GH on Nov. 1. Burton taped his last episode on Oct. 27, TVLine hears.

In the Nov. 22 episode the ABC sudser, Burton’s character, Jason Morgan, was declared missing (and perhaps will be presumed dead?) after being caught in tunnel collapse beneath Cassadine Island. (Is it no longer called Spoon Island? Where have I been? Are there still parapets?)

Burton said he was unsure when his final air date will be (or if it already aired).

“I know there’s been a lot of rumors and speculation about me and General Hospital, and I wanted you to hear it from me personally. Unfortunately, General Hospital has let me go, because of the vaccine mandate,” Burton shared on Instagram.

“I did apply for my medical and religious exemptions, and both of those were denied… which, you know, hurts,” he added. “But this is also about personal freedom to me. I don’t think anybody should lose their livelihood over this.”

“I’ll always be grateful for my time on General Hospital. I love it there, I grew up there,” Burton continued. “I believe that when one door closes, multiple doors open… so I am excited to see what the future brings. And maybe one day, if these mandates are lifted, I can return and can finish my career as Jason Morgan.”

Burton said back in mid-August that he had tested positive for COVID-19 but felt “fine” and experienced “no symptoms.” Sharing his positive result in the context of postponing the next in a series of in-person comedy club appearances, Burton claimed that he had been exposed to the virus “at work.”

Burton’s original stint as Jason Morgan né Quartermaine began in 1991 and ended in 2012, when the character was (seemingly) killed off. In 2017, following a run as The Young and the Restless‘ Dylan McAvoy, he returned to ABC’s sole surviving daytime drama. He has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy nine total times, and has converted twice — once for his GH work (in 1998), and again during his Y&R run.

Burton, as noted above, marks GH‘s second major exit this month, with the Nov. 22 episode also marking Ingo Rademacher’s final appearance as Jasper “Jax” Jacks (who returned to Sydney on a business trip).

SAG-AFTRA actors are currently working under the terms of a pandemic-era Return to Work agreement which states, “Producers may in their discretion implement policies requiring that current and prospective employees in Zone A, studio teachers and others who come into close contact with minors be ‘fully vaccinated’ as a condition of employment where permitted by law.” (Zone A is the area where actors are taped/filmed performing scenes for a TV show or movie, plus the immediate perimeter where crew members work.)

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