Gov. Inslee: Biden vaccine requirement for workers at large businesses ‘the right direction’

Nov 18, 2021, 3:42 PM
Inslee, climate, vaccine requirements...
Governor Jay Inslee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden issued rules in early November mandating that companies with more than 100 employees require workers to either get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. As for what that might look like in practice in Washington state, Gov. Inslee said Thursday that a good deal remains up in the air.

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Despite mounting opposition from Republican governors in other states, Inslee expressed his support for the coming requirements.

“I believe the standard is the right direction for the nation,” he said during a Thursday news conference.

Moving forward, instituting the rules will likely need to be put on hold while legal challenges play out. Even so, the governor did say that he believes “these new standards are coming” regardless, urging businesses to “think about how to implement them” in the weeks and months to come.

“I know this has caused a little consternation for folks to know exactly what the near future is, but I hope that we will have judicial review and decisions in the near future,” Inslee said.

Gov. Inslee also noted that once Biden’s rules are formally put in place, he does not plan to have Washington’s own requirements exceed the federal mandate.

“Our intention is to retain OSHA’s 100 employee threshold and also the option for testing out in lieu of vaccination,” he said. “That’s the decision we made at this time, except for changes are necessary to align with our state law.”

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Barring a defeat in court, the new requirements are scheduled to take effect on Jan. 4 on the authority of an emergency temporary standard from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Businesses will be required to give employees paid time off to get fully vaccinated. While vaccinations will be funded through federal dollars, it could fall to employees to pay for weekly testing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Gov. Inslee: Biden vaccine requirement for workers at large businesses ‘the right direction’