President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the private sector will go into force on January 4, according to administration officials, with fines of up to $14,000 per infraction for businesses that fail to comply.
The law is expected to be challenged in court, but a Biden administration official said on a press teleconference that it supersedes any state policy prohibiting coronavirus vaccine mandates.
According to officials, the obligation applies to enterprises with 100 or more employees or around 84 million people. Employers will need to implement policies that either mandate all employees to receive their final vaccine shot by Jan. 4 or allow unvaccinated employees to keep their jobs if they consent to weekly testing and mask use.
With certain medical and religious exemptions, the Jan. 4 deadline will also apply to two other Biden vaccine mandates that affect federal contractors and approximately 17 million health-care workers. People who work directly for the federal government have until December 8 to comply.
After the Delta form of COVID-19 caused a new wave of coronavirus illnesses and terminated what Biden had dubbed a “summer of freedom,” he announced in early September that he would implement the raft of mandates.
The Republican National Committee has threatened to fight over the private-sector requirement, and Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order last month purporting to overturn the federal mandate for the state’s corporations. The private-sector mandate, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “preempts states and political subdivisions of states from adopting and enforcing workplace requirements relating to these issues except under the authority of a federally approved state plan,” according to a Biden administration official.
“The OSH Act specifies that any state occupational safety or health requirement ‘relating to the same occupational safety or health concern’ as the federal OSHA standard is preempted,” the official added.
According to the CDC, 80.2 percent of adults in the United States have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. Workers must acquire either the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or both doses of the two-dose Pfizer or Modern vaccines under the new standards.