US withdraws emergency covid vaccine mandate after Supreme Court blocks rule

The White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Bloomberg)
The White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Bloomberg)

Summary

OSHA said it would continue to seek the private-sector mandate via the regular rule-making process

The Biden administration is withdrawing an emergency private-sector vaccination mandate against Covid-19 after the Supreme Court blocked its implementation.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday it would continue to work on imposing the vaccination requirement through the regular—and lengthier—rule-making process.

The emergency rule, issued in November, mandated that employers with 100 or more employees require their workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to weekly testing and wear a mask while indoors.

The rule, most of which was set to take effect earlier this month, prompted a lawsuit by business groups. On Jan. 13, the Supreme Court stopped the rule from going into effect while it deliberated over the lawsuit. The rule would have affected roughly 84 million workers.

In an unsigned ruling, the court’s conservative majority said the administration likely didn’t have the power to impose such a requirement on private businesses.

The rule wouldn’t apply to businesses whose employees don’t report to a workplace nor to those who work at home or outdoors.

OSHA said it was “prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent Covid-19 healthcare standard."

The Buckeye Institute, a legal group representing one set of employers, said it would continue to challenge the administration’s effort to impose the rule through the regular rule-making process.

The Supreme Court let stand a separate emergency rule from the administration mandating vaccinations for healthcare workers whose facilities receive money from Medicare and Medicaid.

As of Monday, nearly 74% of the country’s adults had been fully vaccinated, of which about 43% had received a booster shot.

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