(Reuters) – The Biden Administration’s employer COVID-19 vaccine rule should remain blocked because U.S. employers should not have to scramble to implement an illegal rule, opponents told a federal appeals court on Tuesday.
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is weighing whether to lift an order issued Saturday that froze the rule during litigation.
The government has been sued by private employers, religious organizations and states including Texas for allegedly exceeding its authority to issue the vaccine rule.
Businesses must begin crafting policies and collecting employee health information to prepare to implement the rule by the Jan. 4 deadline, while also dealing with labor shortages and logistics problems.
“These burdens start now,” the opponents said in the court filing. “They cannot recover that lost time and effort if the rule is eventually enjoined.”
The Biden Administration told the 5th U.S. Circuit Court on Monday that if it did not lift the stay on the rule, dozens or even hundreds of workers could die daily.
The opponents were also dismissive of the government’s request that the court wait until next week, when other cases filed in federal appeals courts around the country will be grouped in one court.
The rule unveiled last week was issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and mandates that businesses with at least 100 employees require staff get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly and wear a mask.
President Joe Biden said in September, when COVID-19 cases were surging, that patience was wearing thin with unvaccinated Americans and he unveiled measures to boost inoculations.
Around two dozen states and many large companies have imposed their own vaccination requirements for employees. Around 80% of American adults have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Stephen Coates)