If you’ve got 99 employees you’re in luck!
US President Joe Biden will instruct all employers with more than 100 workers to force their staff to get vaccinated or to submit to weekly Covid-19 tests. Companies refusing will face stiff fines.
The new order, revealed by the White House on Thursday ahead of a speech by Biden, will affect roughly 100 million American workers. Earlier, White House officials told the media that Biden has also signed an executive order making vaccination obligatory for all 2.5 million federal employees and other outside contractors, with no option for testing as an alternative.
The White House cannot normally compel private companies to force drugs or testing on their employees, but the Biden administration’s order will be given through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will issue a rule in the near future. According to the Associated Press, companies refusing to toe the line will face fines of $14,000 per violation.
Some 80 million Americans have not been vaccinated. Speaking at a press conference earlier on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the Biden administration’s “overarching objective here is to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans.”
Biden is expected to formally announce the new policy at his speech later on Thursday afternoon, as part of a “six-pronged” plan to curb the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country. Other measures will include increased free testing, an increase in federal fines for airline passengers refusing to wear masks, and a call on entertainment venues to only grant entry to vaccinated people, per the White House’s website.
More than 177 million Americans are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, but vaccine efficacy wanes with time, and the Delta variant of the virus has been shown to infect the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. Despite the resilience of the Delta variant against vaccination, Biden’s administration has discussed making booster shots available to those who are already vaccinated, and the president could touch on the subject in his speech on Thursday afternoon.
A message on the White House’s website says the administration will ensure that Americans “know where to get a booster.”
The administration has given no hint that compulsory vaccination will lead to a relaxation of mask mandates on federal property or indoors in areas that have taken Biden’s advice and reintroduced them.
News of the impending vaccine mandates angered libertarians and conservatives, with Republican Rep. Thomas Massie (Kentucky) calling the policy “medical tyranny,” and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem vowing to “stand up for freedom” and challenge it “in court.”
Biden himself spoke out against mandatory vaccination back in December. “No, I don’t think it should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it be mandatory. Just like I don’t think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide,” he said at the time.