A U.S. appeals court on Friday reinstated a nationwide vaccine-or-testing COVID-19 mandate for large businesses, a federal government rule that covers 80 million American workers.
The ruling by the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati lifted a November injunction that had blocked the rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which applies to businesses with least 100 workers.
The law “authorizes OSHA to act on its charge ‘to assure safe and healthful working conditions for the nation’s work force and to preserve the nation’s human resources’,” said the opinion from the three-judge panel.
President Joe Biden unveiled in September regulations to increase the adult vaccination rate as a way of fighting the pandemic, which has killed more than 750,000 Americans and weighed on the economy.
Companies such as United Airlines have used mandates to increase the number of vaccinated employees, often with only a small number of workers refusing the shots.
Republicans, conservative groups and trade organizations sued over the OSHA rule, arguing the agency overstepped its authority.
The rule set a Jan. 4 deadline for compliance, although it unclear if that will be enforced because the rule was blocked for weeks.
On Another Front
On Thursday, Biden’s Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to block lower court orders that are keeping President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers from going into effect in about half of the states.
The administration asked the justices to allow the “urgently needed health and safety measure to take effect before the winter spike in COVID-19 cases worsens further.”
It said the requirement “will save hundreds or even thousands of lives each month.”
The administration’s request comes a day after the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a nationwide ban on the mandate. The court instead allowed the mandate to remain blocked in 14 states that had collectively sued in federal court in Louisiana. That action altered a Nov. 30 ruling by U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, who originally applied his order nationwide.
A different appeals court, the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has declined to disturb a lower court order blocking the mandate in 10 other states.
The Biden administration asked the justices to allow the mandate to take effect in the 24 states covered by those two courts’ decisions. A federal judge in Texas granted an injunction Thursday that applies only to that state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.