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OSHA to suspend enforcement of federal vaccine mandate

Worker at Marriott San Diego Gaslamp Quarter.png
Posted at 5:19 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 20:27:51-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- More than 80 million people who work for large companies in the United States will not have to get the COVID-19 vaccine for now. The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] suspended the enforcement of President Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The pandemic has not been kind to the hospitality industry.

"It's very difficult to find staff," Jeffrey Burg, General Manager of the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter, said.

Burg said pre-pandemic it had 180 employees. Now it is down to a little over 100. Then came the Biden administration's Emergency Temporary Standard [ETS], requiring companies with more than 100 employees to have all staff vaccinated by January 2, 2022, or get weekly tests. This was possibly another reason Burg could lose workers.

Burg said COVID-19 mandates in the past have already been a source of stress for businesses. For example the mask mandate."

"Earlier in the pandemic when it required by the state of California, some guests became confrontational. Occasionally physically confrontational, and that's counter to what we do every day," Burg said.

So to avoid another stressful situation, Burg said his HR team anticipated this new ETS mandate months ago.

"We were proactive and said this is what might happen," Burg said. "We encourage all of our associates to get vaccinated, but it's a personal choice."

But now, they will not have to comply. This week, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court ordered OSHA not to enforce the ETS. On the OSHA website, it said:

"While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation."
OSHA Website

While some companies will move forward with the vaccine mandate, Burg said its parent company is not.

"We too are at a pause, and we will follow any mandate once it becomes the law."

Burg said his team is planning for a smooth transition for its employees.

"[We will] help them get an appointment for a vaccine if they haven't been vaccinated, ensuring that their schedule is set so that when they get the vaccine maybe have the next day off so they can recover from any side effects, or getting the rapid tests so they can follow the weekly testing," Burg said.

ABC 10News reached out to CAL-OSHA. They sent us this statement:

"Federal OSHA has stated that it will not require states that administer their own workplace safety and health programs, like California, to submit their notices of intent (to adopt the federal ETS) while the stay is in effect.

Cal/OSHA and the Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board will follow this guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor and will take no further steps to implement the Federal ETS. The California COVID-19 Prevention Standards (8 CCR §§ 3205-3205.4) are not impacted by the Fifth Circuit's Order and remain in effect for California employers."