Pennsylvania private businesses with 100 or more employees could face fines ranging from $13,653 up to $136,532 for violating the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, officials said Thursday.
Nearly two months ago, President Joe Biden announced two mandates on American workers: Federal employees and contractors must get the COVID-19 vaccine or face punishments up to and including being fired; and large private businesses must require employees to either get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.
“We’ve been patient,” Biden said on September 9, “but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.”
In the weeks that followed, American businesses anxiously awaited the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue its emergency temporary standard (ETS) forcing businesses to comply. On Thursday, the regulatory shoe finally dropped.
“The ETS requires covered employers to develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that instead establish, implement, and enforce a policy allowing employees who are not fully vaccinated to elect to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at the workplace,” the order reads. The implementation has been delayed until January 4, 2022.
OSHA will conduct onsite workplace inspections in an attempt to enforce compliance.
The Biden administration recently released rules surrounding its small business vaccine mandate, which would hit small businesses with fines from $13,653 to $136,532, if found in violation of the vaccine rules. Businesses with 100 or more employees have until Jan. 4 to comply.
Chris Gustason, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, said Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration have embraced and praised Biden’s “job-killing mandate,” meaning huge fines are on the horizon for small businesses across Pennsylvania, he said.
Also, Attorney General Josh Shapiro helped Wolf shut down small businesses and stood by the governor’s COVID policies, Gustason said. Shapiro, a Democrat is running for governor.
“After forcing countless Pennsylvania small businesses to shutter, leading to a 6.2 percent unemployment rate, you’d think Tom Wolf would have changed course, but apparently his war on small businesses is just getting started,” said Gustafson. “By adopting Joe Biden’s federal vaccine overreach, Wolf is all but ensuring Pennsylvania’s lackluster economic recovery will only get worse.”
Republican candidate for governor, Lou Barletta, a former congressman and mayor, called the policy unconstitutional.
“Joe Biden doesn’t have the authority to impose this unconstitutional mandate on people requiring them to inject something into their bodies against their will or face unemployment. Biden’s failed policies have already crushed the economic recovery that was underway when he took office, and this mandate will make things even worse. Further, while he claims to ‘follow the science,’ his mandate fails to recognize the natural immunity of people who have already recovered from COVID, which studies show is just as effective as, or stronger than, the vaccine.
“People should get vaccinated if that is their personal choice,” said Barletta. “But the government has no business ordering people to do it. Josh Shapiro no doubt supports this unlawful exertion of federal power, proving that he is even more unqualified to be governor of Pennsylvania than we previously thought.”
And Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy analysis at the free-market Commonwealth Foundation, said, “In a time when workers are choosing to leave their jobs and there are ongoing supply chain shortages, the last thing our economy needs is another mandate that makes it more difficult to hire. The key to jumpstarting Pennsylvania’s economy is changing the way we regulate and tax small businesses.”
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