All businesses with more than 100 employees will be required by the Department of Labor to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or weekly testing for their workers, the White House announced Thursday. Through an Executive Order, President Joe Biden will also mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all federal workers with no testing option to opt out.
Businesses that reject the policy could face penalties up to $14,000 per violation, a senior Biden administration official said, according to the Washington Post. Companies will also be required to give workers paid time off to receive the vaccine under the new rules.
The memo entitled “Path Out of the Pandemic” outlined Biden’s six pillar plan, which includes: vaccinating the unvaccinated; further protecting the vaccinated through booster shots; keeping schools open; increasing testing and requiring masks; protecting the economic recovery; and improving care for those with Covid-19.
The White House anticipates the new policy will impact 80 million workers, or nearly two-thirds of the United States’ workforce. The president’s order will also extend to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government.
“This plan will ensure that we are using every available tool to combat COVID-19 and save even more lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and safe, and protecting our economy from lockdowns and damage,” the memo stated.
The six-pronged plan, designed by the president and members of his public health team, was finalized Wednesday afternoon, CNN reported. The strategy also includes steps encouraging private businesses to follow the president’s lead to implement similar COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
Also on Thursday, Biden is expected to address confusion relating to booster shot requirements, and will announce expansions to free testing, particularly for children returning to school. Officials said Americans should have a clearer idea of how the pandemic will end following Biden’s speech.
The president has maintained that he will not federally mandate vaccine passports, but has repeatedly encouraged private businesses to mandate the jab themselves. CNN reported that Biden administration officials have been working to figure out how the government can help businesses apply more stringent COVID-19 policies, including requiring proof of vaccination at bars, restaurants and similar businesses.
“Today I’m calling on more companies in the private sector to step up the vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people,” Biden said last month. “If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that and require it.”
Biden added that it “only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Top U.S. Navy officials also recently announced all active-duty sailors and Marines are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine within the next 90 days or face “punitive or administrative action or both” for disobeying a lawful order. Reserve members were given 120 days to take the vaccine. The U.S. Air Force also announced their own deadline.