FILE - Manufacturing job, worker, factory

(The Center Square) – A new federal policy, which would require many private businesses to enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates or weekly testing, has come under criticism from Virginia manufacturers.

President Joe Biden announced a new rule Thursday, which will require private businesses that employ 100 or more people to require every worker be vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive weekly tests. The rule, which will be promulgated through OSHA, is expected to face legal challenges from Republican states. It will affect about 100 million people nationwide.

“What this regulation is really doing is squeezing employers to become the ‘COVID-19 police,’” Brett Vassay, the president of the Virginia Manufacturers Association told The Center Square, “and compel their employees to be vaccinated rather than allow companies to employ the hierarchy of controls to safely accommodate the unvaccinated and still protect all employees like they have done for the last 18 months.”

The regulation will require businesses to grant workers time off to receive the vaccine or provide weekly tests for them, which Vassay said puts an economic burden on employers. He said businesses are still getting introduced to the new Virginia 16VAC25-220 Final Permanent Standard for COVID-19 in the workplace and this new mandate is “heavy handed.”

Gov. Ralph Northam’s office did not respond to a request for comment about how the new rule could affect businesses, but the governor signaled his support for the mandate on Twitter.

“Vaccines are the best way for us to get through this pandemic,” Northam tweeted. “That's why we have required vaccinations for over 120,000 state employees—and it’s making our Commonwealth safer.”

Republican leaders in the Virginia state legislature could not be reached for comment, but some members tweeted their opposition.

“The only thing truly unique about the government's approach to problem-solving is the legal application of aggressive force to accomplish its aims,” Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper said. “Perhaps this is what makes it the 'go-to' approach for those who are too lazy or self-righteous to convince, compete or create.”

Businesses that fail to comply with the new mandate would face a penalty of $14,000 for each violation.

Biden is also signing an executive order that will require all federal contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, which will affect many Virginia businesses based outside of Washington, D.C.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.