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Biden administration withdraws COVID vaccine mandate for businesses

The Supreme Court's conservative majority all-but-struck down OSHA's requirement that would've applied to about 84 million people.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that it will be formally withdrawing the Biden administration's vaccine and testing mandates at private workplaces.

The move comes after the Supreme Court's conservative majority all-but-struck down OSHA's requirement that employers with 100 or more employees require their workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or tested weekly. However, it did leave in place a vaccination requirement for health care workers. 

The OSHA requirement for large businesses would've impacted about 84 million Americans.

"OSHA strongly encourages vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace," the U.S. Labor Department said in Tuesday's announcement

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled OSHA appeared to overstep its congressional authority to implement occupational standards, saying, “Although COVID–19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most.”

While the court left open the possibility for the U.S. to pursue more targeted mandates, White House officials said there were no immediate plans to seek a redo of the regulation.

Many large businesses that had already put in place vaccination-or-testing requirements indicated they had no plans to reverse course. But some, including Starbucks, have reversed their policies after the court's ruling

Last week, a U.S. judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction barring the federal government from enforcing a requirement that federal workers without qualifying medical or religious exemptions be vaccinated for COVID-19. The Justice Department said it would appeal the ruling.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

 

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