The mandate announced on Thursday targets businesses with 100 or more workers and includes heavy fines for firms that fail to comply. The measure sets a 4 January deadline for workers to receive COVID-19 shots needed to be “fully vaccinated”.
Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has pledged to launch a legal attack against the Biden administration over the new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private sector workers.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, DeSantis said that Florida would join Alabama, Georgia, and several other states in a preemptive legal challenge against the new mandate.
The governor added that his state would also quickly lodge a separate legal action against a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers at facilities that take payments from Medicare and Medicaid.
The 43-year old said that he “just” thinks that “people are so sick of constantly being bossed around, restricted, mandated, all these different things” and that “we [Florida] have had enough of it and we want people to be able to make their own decisions”.
DeSantis described the mandates as “unconstitutional” and “illegal”, pledging to use state taxpayer money to offset any possible fines assessed by federal authorities against businesses in Florida.
The governor also said he does not rule out the new mandates being just the beginning and that the Biden administration would eventually mandate that those previously inoculated get booster shots.
The lawsuits will be filed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who also slammed the vaccine mandates and dubbed the Biden administration’s actions “authoritarian”.
“When this president grew angry and lost his patience and said that unvaccinated Americans were killing others he decided to violate the restriction of his powers through our constitution and impose his will”, Moody said.
He spoke after the attorneys general of an array of US states, including Ohio, Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Kentucky, announced their intention to sue the Biden administration over the new COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“President Biden’s illegal mandate is an egregious overreach and sets the country down a dangerous path. Forcing these injections on Montanans at the threat of losing their jobs infringes on the rights of our state, individuals, and businesses. We’ve been preparing for this. I’ll be filing a lawsuit tomorrow to stop this lawless order in its tracks”, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said in a statement on Thursday.
The mandates, which were released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) earlier on Thursday, require companies with 100 or more employees to require COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing and workplace masking. The measure sets a 4 January deadline for workers to receive the shots needed to be “fully vaccinated”.
A separate Biden administration mandate requires about 17 million healthcare workers across 76,000 hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities in the US to get fully immunised by 4 January.
In September, President Joe Biden announced that the United States was introducing compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 for all employees of federal agencies. He also pledged at the time to order OSHA to issue rules for private businesses with more than 100 employees to get vaccinated.