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Appeals Court Rules Biden Admin’s Vaccine Mandate For Large Employers Can Take Effect

Appeals Court Rules Biden Admin’s Vaccine Mandate For Large Employers Can Take Effect

A federal appeals court panel has allowed President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for larger private employers to move ahead, reversing a previous decision on a requirement that could affect some 84 million American workers. The 2-1 decision by a panel of the 6th US circuit court of appeals in Cincinnati overrules a decision by a federal judge in a separate court that had paused the mandate nationwide.

Republican state attorneys general and conservative groups said they would appeal Friday’s decision to the Supreme Court.

The mandate from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was to take effect on January 4, 2022, but Friday’s ruling now makes it unclear as to when the requirement might be put in place. The White House said in a statement that it will protect workers “especially as the U.S. faces the highly transmissible Omicron variant, it’s critical we move forward with vaccination requirements and protections for workers with the urgency needed in this moment.”

Twenty-seven Republican-led states joined with conservative groups, business associations, and some individual businesses to push back against the requirement as soon as OSHA published the rules in early November. They argued the agency was not authorized to make the emergency rule, in part because the coronavirus is a general health risk and not one faced only by employees at work.

The vaccine requirement applies to companies with 100 or more employees and would cover about 84 million workers in the US. Employees who are not fully vaccinated would have to wear face masks and be subject to weekly Covid-19 tests. There would be exceptions, including for those who work outdoors or only at home.

The administration has estimated that the rule would save 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations over six months. On Friday, the US Department of Labor, which includes OSHA, said the 6th circuit’s ruling will allow the agency to implement “commonsense, science-based measures to keep workers safe and healthy during a deadly pandemic”.

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