Steve Burton Out at 'General Hospital' After Refusing to Comply with COVID Vaccine Mandate

The news comes after Steve Burton's former costar Ingo Rademacher similarly left the show over the COVID vaccine mandate

Steve Burton General Hospital
Photo: Todd Wawrychuk via Getty

Steve Burton has been let go from General Hospital for not complying with the show's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

After his exit was rumored among fans of the ABC soap opera, the 51-year-old actor shared the news in a video on his Instagram page Tuesday. Burton filmed his final episode of the show last month, PEOPLE confirms.

"I know there's been a lot of rumors and speculations about me and General Hospital. I wanted you to hear it from me personally," he said in the clip. "Unfortunately, General Hospital has let me go because of the vaccine mandate. I did apply for my medical and religious exemptions, and both of those were denied, which, you know, hurts."

Burton continued, "But this is also about personal freedom to me. I don't think anyone should lose their livelihood over this. But with that being said, you know me, I'll always be grateful for my time at General Hospital, I love it there."

"Maybe one day if these mandates are lifted, I can return and finish my career as Jason Morgan. That would be an honor," he concluded, referencing the character he has played off and on since 1991.

Burton tested positive for COVID-19 in August after he said he was exposed to the virus "at work," though he didn't specify whether he was referring to the General Hospital set. He postponed his upcoming comedy club appearances and said in a video at the time that he was experiencing "no symptoms."

The announcement of his exit comes nearly two weeks after PEOPLE confirmed that his former costar Ingo Rademacher similarly parted ways with General Hospital because he declined to comply with the production's recent vaccine mandate.

Rademacher, whose last episode aired on Nov. 22, also came under fire earlier this month for a transphobic tweet he reposted on his Instagram Story.

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INGO RADEMACHER. Walt Disney Television/Todd Wawrychuk

General Hospital's vaccine mandate for Zone A, which includes the actors and all crew who are present on set when the actors aren't wearing masks, went into effect on Nov. 1. Last month, star Nancy Lee Grahn expressed her excitement at the news.

"I am very proud to work on the ONLY Daytime Soap that has required that all performers, staff and crew be vaccinated," the actress wrote on Twitter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone aged 5 years and older in the U.S. get vaccinated against COVID-19.

A study released by the organization earlier this year found that among people who are fully vaccinated, the risk of COVID-19 infection was reduced by 91%. Additionally, the risk of infection among those who were partially vaccinated was 81% lower.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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