Vaccine Mandates & COVID Testing: What To Know

With the President’s address to the nation on everyone’s minds, businesses everywhere are wondering how this will impact them and what actions are needed at this time.

President Biden in early September announced a six-pronged, comprehensive national strategy titled the “Path out of the Pandemic”.

These new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans are an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.

So, how will that impact your business?

Here is a brief summary of what we know so far:

Vaccinating the Unvaccinated

  • The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work.
  • The President has signed an Executive Order that requires all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated. The President also signed an Executive Order directing that this standard be extended to employees of contractors that do business with the federal government.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking action to require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including but not limited to hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies.
  • The President’s plan calls on entertainment venues like sports arenas, large concert halls, and other venues where large groups of people gather to require that their patrons be vaccinated or show a negative test for entry.
  • OSHA is developing a rule that will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they are under the weather post-vaccination. This requirement will be implemented through the ETS (Emergency Temporary Standard).
    • When Will the ETS Likely be Issued? On a September 10 webinar, Labor Department officials stated that the ETS will be issued in the “coming weeks,” but did not provide a specific date.
    • How Long Will the ETS Last? The ETS can remain in place for six months. After that time, it must be replaced by a permanent OSHA standard, which must undergo a formal rulemaking process involving a typical notice-and-comment period.

Increasing Testing & Requiring Masking

  • President Biden’s Executive Order, Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, directed applicable agencies to take action to require mask-wearing in airports and on certain modes of public transportation, including on many airplanes, trains, maritime vessels, and intercity bus services. TSA has extended its implementing orders for air and ground travel through January 18th, 2022, and the President’s plan will double fines for those who are not in compliance.
  • To improve access to rapid tests for all consumers, top retailers that sell at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests—Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger—will offer to sell those tests at-cost for the next three months.

Protecting Our Economic Recovery

  • The President’s plan will help more than 150,000 small businesses by strengthening the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides long-term, low-cost loans.
    • The Small Business Administration (SBA) will increase the maximum amount of funding a small business can borrow through this program from $500,000 to $2 million, which can be used to hire and retain employees, purchase inventory and equipment, and pay off higher-interest debt.
    • Next, SBA will make it easier for small businesses with multiple locations in hard-hit sectors like restaurants, hotels, and gyms to access these loans.
    • Lastly, to ensure that Main Street businesses have additional time to access remaining funds, SBA will offer a 30-day exclusive window of access where only small businesses seeking loans of $500,000 or less will receive awards after the new improved loan product launches.
  • The President’s plan will make it easier for more than 3.5 million PPP borrowers with loans of $150,000 or less to get their loans wiped clean. Under the new streamlined approach, SBA sends a pre-completed application form to the borrower who can review, sign, and send back to SBA, which then works with the lender to complete the forgiveness process.
  • The ARP invested $100 million to establish a new SBA Community Navigator program, which will deploy trusted community partners in underserved communities to better connect business owners to federal, state, and local resources.

Potential covered employers will want to start considering how they will comply either by requiring all employees to be vaccinated or allowing weekly tests as alternatives. Either will of course have direct effects on your business. We will know much more after the ETS is issued, and it’s expected to have a non-enforcement period of 30-90 days afterwards.

Read the full article on the White House website here.

HRS is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation extremely closely. Our team will continue general operations per usual and will keep our website up-to-date with information regarding COVID-19.


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