Appeals court reinstates business vaccine mandate

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the authority to impose COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirements on U.S. workplaces, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 ruling on Friday.

“Vaccination and medical examinations are both tools that OSHA historically employed to contain illness in the workplace,” wrote Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

Florida is one of 27 Republican-led states, along with organizations and businesses, suing to block the mandate, which would apply to U.S. companies with more than 100 employees. After another appeals court temporarily blocked the mandate last month, OSHA had said it would abide by the decision and not enforce the mandate

What happens now? The regulation was set to take effect Jan. 4, but OSHA said Saturday it would not enforce it until Jan. 10 at the earliest.

The rule says unvaccinated employees must wear face masks and undergo weekly coronavirus testing. It allows exemptions for religious or medical reasons and for people who work from home or exclusively outdoors. 

Employers will have until Feb. 9 to set up their testing protocols for unvaccinated workers, OSHA said. 

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a Republican, said she would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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