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Supreme Court blocks Biden’s vax mandate for businesses

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WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States Supreme Court delivered a blow to President Joe Biden on Thursday, blocking his Covid vaccination-or-testing mandate for employees of large businesses.

At the same time, the nation’s highest court allowed a vaccination mandate for health care workers at facilities receiving federal funding.
“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law,” Biden said in a statement.

He said it is now up to states and individual employers to determine whether they should be requiring employees “to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated.”

The Supreme Court’s six conservative justices ruled the mandate would represent a “significant encroachment into the lives — and health — of a vast number of employees.”

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” they said, referring to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category,” they added.

The three liberal justices dissented, saying the ruling “stymies the federal government’s ability to counter the unparalleled threat that Covid-19 poses to our nation’s workers.”

The president welcomed the requirement that health care workers be vaccinated, saying it would affect some 10 million people working at facilities receiving federal funds and will “save lives.”

After months of public appeals to Americans to get vaccinated against Covid, which has killed more than 845,000 people in the US, Biden announced in September that he was making vaccinations compulsory at large private companies.

Unvaccinated employees would have to present weekly negative tests and wear face masks while at work.

The OSHA, a federal agency, gave businesses until 9 February to be in compliance with the rules or face the possibility of fines.

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