A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked a Biden administration mandate that companies with more than 100 employees require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The three-judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a temporary stay Saturday, writing in a brief order that petitioners in the case "give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues" with the sweeping mandate.
The federal appeals court also gave the administration until 5 p.m. Monday to respond to the request for a permanent injunction from the groups opposing the vaccine requirement.
Though President Joe Biden first announced details of the plan in September, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), under the Department of Labor, officially rolled out the mandate Thursday. It is the administration's most ambitious effort yet to increase vaccinations and curb the pandemic.
The rule, which would take effect Jan. 4, 2022, requires that employees at companies with more than 100 workers be fully vaccinated by January or get tested weekly and wear a mask at work. All federal employees and certain healthcare workers are also required to be vaccinated under the new rule, and the White House said it would impact 84 million workers around the country.
"This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it is caused by the fact that despite having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for the past five months, free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot," Biden said in September. "This is unacceptable."
The announcement at the time was met with outrage from several Republican leaders, who threatened to sue. After the mandate was issued Thursday, 11 states filed a joint lawsuit Friday arguing that requiring vaccines was "unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise."