US president Joe Biden has announced measures that would require employees of large companies to show proof of vaccination or face weekly testing.
Detailing the plans at a speech in the White House, he said the US Department of Labor would require private businesses with more than 100 staff to either mandate the vaccine or request proof of a negative Covid-19 test.
Federal government workers, as well as federal healthcare workers, will also be expected to have received the vaccine. The new requirements would cover around 100 million private and public sector employees overall.
Cases in the US have been on the rise in recent weeks, with hospitals in several states reaching capacity.
About 80 million US citizens remain unvaccinated. Figures from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention show the proportion of fully vaccinated adults to be 64%.
No jab, no job policies
Biden also announced a doubling in fines for air passengers who refuse to wear a mask and a plan to accelerate the roll-out of home testing kits. Some states have begun vaccinating children over 12, while schools in Los Angeles could require a vaccine for attendance for pupils in this age group after January.
Biden said of the measures: “This is not about freedom, or personal choice, it’s about protecting yourself and those around you.”
A number of his Republican opponents have criticised the requirement, calling it “unconstitutional” and “un-American”.
Republican governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, said the President “and the radical Democrats [had] thumbed their noses at the constitution”.
South Dakota governor Kristi Noem threatened legal action on Twitter, telling Biden: “See you in court.”
In the UK, mandatory Covid-19 and flu vaccinations for healthcare and social care workers is the subject of a government consultation, launched yesterday.
Few UK-based employers in the private sector have so far announced plans to require employees to be double vaccinated.