This post may refer to COVID-19

This post may refer to COVID-19

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Biden asks businesses to proceed with vaccine mandate after omicron variant arrives in U.S.

Biden asks businesses to proceed with vaccine mandate after omicron variant arrives in U.S.

The White House is asking businesses to proceed with the vaccination and testing requirements amid concerns about the omicron variant of Covid-19.


President Joe Biden on Thursday asked businesses to voluntarily move forward with the administration’s Covid-19 vaccine and testing requirements, even as the rule is challenged in court, after U.S. officials confirmed the first case of the omicron variant in the U.S.

“We’re asking businesses to step forward and do what’s right to protect our workers and to protect our communities, which is to put in place some sort of vaccination requirement or testing requirements for the workplace,” a senior administration official said.

The administration’s request comes after public health officials in California this week detected the first case in the U.S. of the omicron Covid variant. U.S. and international health officials are concerned that omicron, which has roughly 50 mutations, could prove more transmissible than past strains of the virus and may evade vaccine protection to some degree.

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The Biden administration gave businesses with 100 or more employees until Jan. 4 to ensure their staff are either vaccinated against Covid, or submit a negative test weekly before entering the workplace. Unvaccinated employees were supposed to start wearing masks indoors at the workplace on Dec. 5.

However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration suspended enforcement and implementation of the requirements last month, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit halted the policy pending review. Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, in an opinion for a three-judge panel, said the requirements were “fatally flawed” and raise “serious constitutional concerns”

Republican attorneys general, private businesses and industry groups such as the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Associations and the National Federation of Independent Business have sued to overturn the policy. Labor unions are asking the courts to expand the requirements to cover smaller businesses and protect more workers.

The more than two dozen lawsuits were transferred to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit last month, after the Biden administration asked a multidistrict litigation panel to consolidate the cases in a single court through random selection.