Washington [US], July 30 (ANI): US President Biden on Thursday (local time) directed all federal employees to declare that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or wear masks and be regularly tested, as the country is under threat of spreading delta variant.
Biden has also instructed his administration to apply similar standards to all federal government contractors, a White House statement said adding that it will encourage private sector employers to follow his lead.
The White House had previously tried to avoid tipping the scales by endorsing vaccine mandates for employers and other organisations. Thursday's announcement represents a sizable shift as the White House tries to convince more people to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases rise due to the spread of the delta variant, The Hill reported.
A growing number of businesses have elected to mandate vaccines for employees as a condition of returning to in-person work. Several private colleges have done the same for their students.
According to the White House, the federal government will ask employees and onsite contractors to attest to their vaccination status. Those who do not show that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will need to mask, socially distance and submit to weekly or twice weekly coronavirus testing. Their work travel will also be restricted.
The Hill quoting Public health experts reported that the new mandate could help drive up vaccination rates by setting a model for other businesses at a time when the delta variant.
"We're at the point where some use of mandates is really important," said Harold Pollack, co-director of the University of Chicago Health Lab.
The federal government employs over four million people. It's unclear what percentage of the workforce is currently not vaccinated against COVID-19.
"I don't have that number to share with you at that time," White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday when asked for an estimate on how many federal government employees the administration believes are not vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that mask mandates are once again in effect indoors in the United States' capital for everyone over the age of two - regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
Amid a troubling rise in coronavirus cases and new information on the spread of the delta variant, masks will be required indoors in DC for all people over 2. The new mandate will kick in at 5 am on Saturday (local time), DC Mayor Bowser announced at a press conference.
On Tuesday (local time), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance to prevent further spread of the Delta variant in the United States, by mandating vaccinated people to wear masks in certain situations.The recommendation urges fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors when in areas with "substantial" and "high" transmission of COVID-19, which includes nearly two-thirds of all US counties. (ANI)