The Biden administration on July 29 stated that federal workers and contractors will have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or else wear masks, engage in social distancing, and submit to regular COVID-19 testing.
“Right now, too many people are dying or watching someone they love die and say if ‘I’d just got the vaccine,’” President Joe Biden said in the East Room of the White House. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying who don’t have to die.”
In a statement released by the White House, the administration said the new rules were laid out because of the Delta COVID-19 variant.
“Anyone who does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel,” the White House stated in a fact sheet.
Those rules, according to the White House, apply also to onsite contractors who work with the federal government. The Biden administration will also recommend the same model to employers across the United States.
Along with the new federal government requirements, the White House stated that Biden would direct the Defense Department to investigate “how and when” it will require military members to take the vaccine.
“As a large employer, the largest in this country, who cares about individuals who keep the government running, we have an obligation to be good stewards of the work force and ensure their health and their safety,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on July 29.
The United States has around 2.18 million civilian employees and 570,000 other employees who work for the U.S. Postal Service, according to federal data. It isn’t clear if the Biden administration will apply the mandate to Postal Service workers.