WEDNESDAY, Jan. 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- The Biden Administration on Tuesday withdrew an emergency COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate for workers at large companies following the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling against the requirement.
The mandate, which required businesses with 100 or more staff to ensure their employees were either vaccinated or were tested weekly and wore masks, will no longer be in effect as of Wednesday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) announced.
In its decision earlier this month to block the mandate, the Supreme Court's conservative majority said the Biden administration went too far in imposing such a sweeping requirement on employers.
President Joe Biden reacted strongly to the ruling.
"I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law. This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden," Biden said after the ruling was issued."As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to states and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated," Biden added. "The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy."
The White House had estimated that the mandate would apply to about 84 million workers, NBC News reported.
OHSA said in its statement that it has withdrawn the vaccine requirement as an emergency mandate, but not as a proposed rule, and is "prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard."
In response to surging cases that have swamped hospitals, the Biden administration had issued a number of mandates for federal government and health care sector workers to persuade them to get vaccinated. The Supreme Court did not block the health care workers vaccine mandate.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID vaccines.