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Local businesses weigh in on SCOTUS vaccine mandate decision

Local businesses weigh in on SCOTUS vaccine mandate decision
Local businesses weigh in on SCOTUS vaccine mandate decision
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SEATTLE— In a major blow to President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for large private businesses, the Supreme Court blocked the order, saying it went too far.

However, the court did allow the vaccine requirement for most health care workers in the country.

Local business owners and associations are reacting to the decision with mixed feelings.

At Seattle’s Portage Bay Restaurants—the belief is: the healthier staff can be, the better it is for business and staying open.

So, they started a vaccine policy for their 125 employees in November.

They can either get vaccinated or tested each week—or find another job.

Owners say they're all vaccinated.

“It’s a moral decision and without a doubt the best business decision for us,” said Owner Amy Fair Gunnar. “You can’t have a business—especially a business like ours without having healthy employees and without having healthy guests.”

Fair Gunnar was hoping the Supreme Court would uphold President Biden’s vaccine mandate requiring employers with 100 or more workers to either get vaccinated or get tested every week.

But the Supreme Court’s majority said the administration overstepped its authority and Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t have the power to enforce the mandate.

“I feel like the Supreme Court is making more of a pro-business decision as opposed to a pro-public health decision,” said Fair Gunnar.

The Washington Retail Association has been watching the debate closely and considers the high court’s decision a victory.

Their national partners were part of the lawsuit against the government.

The WRA says there are 385,000 employees who work in retail statewide, and they represent 4,500 storefronts.

“We didn’t know what to expect, quite frankly and we’re pleased that the court agreed that this was a bit of an overstep on OSHA’s part,” said Mark Johnson Sr. VP of Policy and Government Affairs.

The biggest concern was the mandate would lead to even more staffing shortages at a time when hiring has been a challenge. Plus, they were concerned about the administrative burden of executing the mandate.

“It went too far, and it would have really hurt attracting and retaining and keeping employees at our retail establishments, so we’re pleased with the decision today,” said Johnson.

Governor Jay Inslee said for now—he does not plan on a vaccine mandate for private businesses in Washington State.

“We’re not at the moment intending to move in that direction— so it neither accelerates or retards us—it leaves us where we were,” said Gov. Inslee.

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With the Supreme Court’s decision, it is now up to states and individual employers to decide if they should have a vaccination policy.

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