A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that those workers be vaccinated by January 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.
OSHA has the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them. However this is up for debate and certainly many court cases will follow.
Such circuit decisions normally apply to states within a district — Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, in this case but the language employed by the judges gave the decision a national scope.
At least 27 states filed lawsuits challenging the rule in several circuits.
The Biden administration has been encouraging widespread vaccinations saying it is the quickest way to end the pandemic that has reportedly has claimed more than 750,000 lives in the United States.
The 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans, 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 current ruling is temporary, but we expect to learn soon whether it will be extended. We will continue to update as we get more information.