Biden 'disappointed' after Supreme Court blocks vaccine mandate for big businesses

He called on private businesses to help keep workplaces safe

Biden 'disappointed' after Supreme Court blocks vaccine mandate for big businesses

United States President Joe Biden on Thursday expressed his disappointment over the decision of the Supreme Court to block his vaccine mandate for large businesses. The mandate would have required businesses with at least 100 employees to implement jab mandates or carry out weekly COVID-19 tests for employees. But this move, however, was blocked on Thursday by the Supreme Court, which agreed with petitioners that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration overstepped in its authority.

"Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most," the court's majority wrote as quoted by ABC News.

According to the majority, COVID-19 can also spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else where gatherings happen.

"This is no 'everyday exercise of federal power,'" they added as quoted by BBC. "It is instead a significant encroachment on the lives - and health - of a vast number of employees."

Biden in a statement said he is disappointed over the ruling but urged private businesses and states to make their workplaces safe for their staff.

"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," he said. "As a result of the Court's decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated.”

According to the US president, he will use his influence to "advocate for employers to do the right thing."

"I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities," he said.

Read more: Court sides with United Airlines' vaccine mandate

Mandate for healthcare gets greenlight

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court permitted the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, which is expected to cover 10.4 million employees working at 76,000 medical facilities. The conservative-majority court voted 5-4 in favour of Biden's requirement.

"Today's decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the requirement for health care workers will save lives:  the lives of patients who seek care in medical facilities, as well as the lives of doctors, nurses, and others who work there," the president said.

"We will enforce it."

The United States is currently dealing with the spread of the Omicron variant, with the country averaging more than 754,200 new COVID-19 infections daily over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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