President Biden's COVID-19 vaccination requirement for the private sector will go into force on January 4, according to administration officials, with penalties of up to $14,000 per violation for businesses who 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 vaccination requirements.
According to authorities, the obligation applies to enterprises with 100 or more employees, or around 84 million people.
Employers will need to implement rules that either mandate all employees to receive their last vaccination injection by Jan. 4 or allow unvaccinated employees to maintain their employment provided they consent to weekly testing and mask use.
With some medical and religious exemptions, the Jan. 4 deadline will also apply to two other Biden vaccination mandates that affect government contractors and approximately 17 million health-care employees. People who work directly for the federal government have until December 8 to comply.
After the Delta variety of COVID-19 caused a fresh wave of coronavirus infections and ended what Biden had dubbed a "summer of freedom" from the deadly virus, Biden indicated in early September that he would implement the raft of restrictions.
“A distinct minority of Americans supported by a distinct minority of elected officials are keeping us from turning the corner,” Biden said Sept. 9. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”
Biden said critics of the mandates can “have at it” and the rules are expected to be challenged in court.
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 official said “the OSH Act provides that OSHA standards preempt any state occupational safety or health standard ‘relating to the same occupational safety or health issue’ as the federal OSHA standard.”
According to CDC data, 80.2 percent of US adults have had at least one COVID-19 shot. The new policies require workers to get the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or both shots of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.