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OSHA withdraws emergency enforcement of COVID vaccine mandate

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is ceasing emergency enforcement of its COVID-19 mandate for large employers, but noted it’s not withdrawing it as a proposed rule.

The withdrawal, which takes effect Jan. 26, follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision on Jan. 13 to stop enforcement of the rule while appeals are pending at lower courts. The court also ruled that day that the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for healthcare workers could continue during appeals.

OSHA wrote in a filing Tuesday that while it’s withdrawing the emergency temporary standard as an enforceable standard, the standard is still a proposed rule. OSHA said it is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 healthcare standard.

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OSHA had filed the emergency temporary standard on Nov. 5, 2021. It seeks to require employers to develop, implement and enforce vaccination policies, with exceptions for employers that instead required employees to either get vaccinated or undergo regular testing for COVID-19 and wear face coverings at work.

“Notwithstanding the withdrawal of the Vaccination and Testing ETS, OSHA continues to strongly encourage the vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace,” the agency said.

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