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Thousands of Capital Area employees now required to get COVID-19 vaccine by 2022

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BATON ROUGE- President Biden making a new move in America's fight against COVID-19 - mandating businesses with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations or weekly testing.

The emergency rule now impacting hundreds of businesses across the Capital Region.

"The facts are what they are, and we'll see how things play out from now," said Trey Godfrey, BRAC's Senior Vice President of Policy.

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber estimates the new rules will affect about 350 companies and nearly 56,000 employees in the metro area.

"Because there was prior notice of it, most companies were able to make some preliminary preparations," Godfrey said.

Under the new rule:

*Companies do not have to provide or pay for tests. Employers may be required to pay for testing because of other laws or collective bargaining agreements.
*Employees who refuse the shot will have to wear masks at all times.
*Health care workers federal employees and contractors will not have the option to test weekly.
*Religious and medical exemptions are allowed.

The president's plan is already receiving pushback from lawmakers.

"This is America, and I don't think it's either prudent or constitutional for the President of the United States to mandate the vaccine," said U.S. Senator John Kennedy.

The Biden Administration argues it's the only way to save lives and keep the economy going.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said companies that fail to comply with the emergency standard could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.

Businesses, federal contractors, and healthcare facilities have until Jan. 4 to comply.

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