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U.S. court temporarily halts Biden's vaccine mandate for companies

Christian Fernsby |
A U.S. federal appeals court ruled Saturday to temporarily halt a mandate by President Joe Biden's administration that required employees of large companies to get vaccinated or undergo frequent testing.

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According to the mandate, employees of companies with a workforce of 100 or more must be fully vaccinated by January 4. Unvaccinated employees must submit weekly negative COVID-19 tests to enter the workplace after the deadline, and have to wear masks indoors at their workplaces starting December 5.

Issued by three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit who were appointed by Republican presidents, the order reasoned that "there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate" and suspended the mandate "pending further action by this court."

The court order came after a joint petition against the mandate from several Republican led states as well as several private companies. In response to the petition, the Labor Department's top lawyer, Seema Nanda, said Friday that the department was "confident in its legal authority" to issue the mandate, which will be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA has the authority "to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them," she said, adding the administration was "fully prepared to defend this standard in court."