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Federal appeals court temporarily halts new Biden vaccine rule for companies

Federal appeals court temporarily halts new Biden vaccine rule for companies


The rule announced Thursday required most workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly

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An illustration of several vaccine vials over a pink and purple background.
New vaccine rules have been frozen by an appeals court
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A federal appeals court on Saturday issued a stay against the Biden administration’s vaccine rules for US companies. The new rule announced Thursday requires workers at businesses with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, or submit to weekly testing. The rule requires affected companies to provide paid time for employees to get vaccinated, and to ensure any unvaccinated employees wear face masks while at work. The deadline for meeting the provisions is January 4th, 2022.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton petitioned for an emergency stay of the rule, which was to be enforced by the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The petition was joined by attorneys general from Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah, and several private businesses and advocacy groups.

The three-judge panel with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said Saturday (PDF) that it was issuing the stay “because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate.” The court didn’t provide additional detail for why it issued the stay, but the Biden administration now has until 5PM ET on Monday to respond.

Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said in a statement that the Labor Department was “confident” it has the legal authority to issue the rule, and was prepared to defend it in court.