Vaccine mandates

OSHA Halts Enforcement of Biden Vaccine Mandate, Pending Litigation

The agency is staying in its lane—for now.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will not enforce the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, at least until the mandate's legal status is resolved.

The announcement came on Wednesday. OSHA's website now stipulates that while the agency "remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the [COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard] pending future developments in the litigation."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit halted Biden's vaccine mandate, which applies to all private businesses that employ at least 100 people, last week. A three-judge panel described the mandate as "fatally flawed" and "staggeringly broad." Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum dove into the legal arguments against the mandate here, while I tackled some of the broader philosophical objections here.

Despite OSHA's certainty that the mandate falls under its authority to keep workplaces safe, it remains to be seen whether the U.S. Supreme Court will agree. This mandate, after all, extends to remote workers who might rarely come into contact with their coworkers, and thus be at little risk of encountering COVID-19 as a workplace hazard (if the disease can even be classified as such).

It's not completely clear that the Biden administration expects the vaccine mandate to hold up in court, but the federal government is clearly keen to push businesses to require vaccination for as long as it possibly can. At least OHSA is standing down—for now.