President Biden made national news on Thursday when he unveiled a series of sweeping vaccine mandates in an effort to control the coronavirus pandemic, newly reinvigorated by the Delta variant. In addition to requiring almost all healthcare workers to submit proof of vaccination, the Biden Administration plans to require many businesses to vaccinate their employees. According to CNBC, companies with more than 100 employees must “mandate vaccines for their employees or weekly Covid tests for workers who cite religious or health reasons for not getting vaccinated.” The requirement for companies to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for employees will be enacted through a pending rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and violations of this rule may result in a $14,000 penalty.
This 100-employee threshold will include almost every theme park and zoo in the country, and could significantly disrupt theme park operations if employees refuse to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC poll, 72 percent of unvaccinated Americans say that they would quit their job if vaccines are mandated. It’s no secret that many theme parks were short-staffed this summer, especially in areas with intense coronavirus restrictions and lots of unemployment assistance. This additional vaccination requirement could reduce staffing even further, resulting in large lines, long wait times for attractions, and extended maintenance delays.
While President Biden has warned Republicans not to interfere with his vaccination mandates, many states are already gearing up for a massive legal battle. As of September 10, the governors of 17 states have come out in opposition to the president’s proposed mandates, including the governors of Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and Missouri.
Like many of the COVID-associated lockdowns and mitigation measures, we’ll just have to see how President Biden’s recent announcement is put into practice. We don’t know exactly when these measures will be established, or if the impending legal challenges will be successful. The theme park industry is showing signs of a strong recovery, and we can only hope that the strong growth seen in the early Summer will continue into the busy Halloween and Christmas seasons.
Author’s note: While I aimed to present an unbiased reporting of the facts, I would be remiss if I did not stress that the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness. If you are hesitant to get vaccinated, I would highly recommend watching this video because Dr. Damania does a fantastic job presenting both sides of the vaccine debate.