The new order, revealed by the White House on Thursday ahead of a speech by Biden, will affect roughly 100 million American workers. Earlier, White House officials told the media that Biden has also signed an executive order making vaccination obligatory for all 2.5 million federal employees and other outside contractors, with no option for testing as an alternative.
“This is not about freedom, or personal choice,” Biden said in his address to the nation on Thursday afternoon. Americans are “angry” and “frustrated” with some 80 million who haven’t been vaccinated, Biden said, adding that his plan aims to “reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans.”
The White House cannot normally compel private companies to force drugs or testing on their employees, but the Biden administration’s order will be given through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will issue a rule in the near future. According to the Associated Press, companies refusing to toe the line will face fines of $14,000 per violation.
Some 80 million Americans have not been vaccinated. Speaking at a press conference earlier on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the Biden administration’s “overarching objective here is to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans.”
Biden is expected to formally announce the new policy at his speech later on Thursday afternoon, as part of a “six-pronged” plan to curb the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country. Other measures will include increased free testing, an increase in federal fines for airline passengers refusing to wear masks, and a call on entertainment venues to only grant entry to vaccinated people, per the White House’s website.