The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will remove a rule mandating private businesses with more than 100 employees require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly COVID testing.
OSHA will formally withdraw the rule on Wednesday. President Joe Biden announced the rule in November and it was immediately challenged by several states and private companies. The Supreme Court issued a stay on Jan. 13 while federal appeals courts consider its legality.
“After evaluating the Court’s decision, OSHA is withdrawing the Vaccination and Testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard,” the agency wrote in the Register.
When announcing the rule, Biden argued that it would reduce the spread of COVID-19 by requiring Americans to get vaccinated against the virus. Vaccines are less effective against the newly-dominant Omicron variant, though they are believed to be effective at reducing hospitalization and death.
“Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this,” Biden said in defending the rule. “United Airlines, Disney, Tyson food, and even Fox News.”
However, OSHA suspended the rule’s enforcement in November, after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay.
A federal judge in Texas also issued an injunction on Friday preventing the government from mandating all federal employees and contractors get COVID-19 vaccines. The judge, Jeffrey Brown, ruled that Biden could not issue such a mandate “with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress.”
Several lower court judges had blocked the federal government’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers whose employers receive Medicare and Medicaid funds. The Supreme Court, however, ruled that the mandate can remain in effect while its legality is debated in lower courts.