A federal judge has temporarily blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for private businesses that employ 100 or more people.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, Louisiana, issued the emergency injunction after more than two-dozen states filed suit against the requirement.
The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for large firms was set to go into effect on 4 January, with the threat of hefty fines for willful violations.
Under federal rules issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Covid-19 vaccinations or weekly testing will be required for workers at private companies with 100 or more employees.
The move is part of President Joe Biden’s push to drive up vaccination rates, with similar rules for federal workers and contractors coming into effect in the coming weeks. Full vaccination is required by 4 January, with fines of up to $13,653 for each serious violation, and as high as $136,532 for any employer who deliberately disregards the mandate.
The new rules will cover up to 84 million Americans and will be enforced by inspections to check for compliance.
The appeals court on Saturday said it was delaying the federal vaccine requirement because of potential “grave statutory and constitutional issues” raised by the plaintiffs. The government must provide an expedited reply to the motion for a permanent injunction Monday, followed by petitioners’ reply on Tuesday.
The Associated Press and The Independent’s Oliver O’Connell contributed