WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to announce sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
The government’s expansive new rules, being announced Thursday, mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans working in the private sector.
Biden is also signing an executive order requiring vaccination for all employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government.
No testing opt-out is expected to be included for the executive branch requirement.
The requirement for large companies to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for employees will be enacted through a forthcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that carries penalties of $14,000 per violation, an administration official said.
The White House did not immediately say when it would take effect, but said workers would have sufficient time to get vaccinated.
The rule would also require that large companies provide paid time off for vaccination.
In addition to the vaccination requirements, Biden is moving to double federal fines for airline passengers who refuse to wear masks on flights or to maintain face-covering requirements on federal property in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Biden was also to announce that the federal government will work to increase the supply of virus tests, and that the White House has secured concessions from retailers including Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger to sell at-home testing kits at cost beginning this week.