The Biden administration on Thursday said it would require all federal employees and onsite contractors to attest their vaccination status or be subject to masking, social distancing, and COVID-19 testing requirements.
“Anyone who does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice-weekly screening testing requirement and be subject to restrictions on official travel,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the new policy, which it released Thursday afternoon.
“If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated,” the President said on Thursday at the White House.
In addition, the President wants states and local governments to offer their residents $100 to get vaccinated.
“With incentives and mandates, we can make a huge difference and save a lot of lives,” President Biden said.
The President wants more Americans to get vaccinated and believes that this mandate will influence businesses around the country to establish their own mandates.
“I’d like to see them continue to move in that direction,” the President said.
“I asked the Justice Department to determine whether they are able to do that legally and they can – local communities can do that, local businesses can do that. It’s still a question of whether the federal government can mandate the whole country. I don’t know that yet.”
“We’re at the point where some use of mandates is really important,” Harold Pollack, Co-Director of the University of Chicago Health Lab, said.
69 percent of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Department of Veteran Affairs, as well some state governments, have already announced some vaccine mandates.
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) says that the President’s vaccine mandate is a civil rights violation.
“FLEOA fully supports individuals who voluntarily choose to be vaccinated, agree that it is safe and the most effective means of combatting the pandemic, and encourage our members to be vaccinated,” Larry Cosme, the President of FLEOA, said. ‘However, forcing people to undertake a medical procedure is not the American way and is a clear civil rights violation no matter how proponents may seek to justify it.”
The two largest federal employee unions, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, have adopted a wait-and-see approach, saying they have questions about how the administration will implement the directive.
“We expect that the particulars of any changes to working conditions, including those related to COVID-19 vaccines and associated protocols, be properly negotiated with our bargaining units prior to implementation,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “[It] is our understanding that under President Biden’s proposal, the vast majority of federal employees would not have to be vaccinated as a condition of employment, but that those who choose not to receive the vaccine may face certain restrictions. While we await specific proposals and anticipate the negotiation process, we encourage all of our members who are able to take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated and help our nation put an end to this deadly pandemic.”