SWFL businesses deciding if they will comply with the president’s latest COVID-19 mandate

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
FILE – In this Sept. 14, 2021, file photo, a syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

President Joe Biden wants businesses with 100 or more employees to require employees to be vaccinated, or weekly COVID-19 testing for those who are not vaccinated.

But people still have questions and the mandate is already facing pushback.

Businesses that don’t comply need to keep their checkbooks handy as they could face a hefty fine for violation.

Lee health has more than 13,500 workers. Some of them may lose their jobs if they decide not to comply with the president’s mandate.

Millions of workers will need to get a COVID-19 vaccine to keep their jobs, or be prepared to get tested weekly.

Dr. Pamella Seay, a professor of justice studies at Florida Gulf Coast University said, “the federal government is looking at public health and welfare and saying that is the foundation that is the basis for requiring this mandate. The state is saying we are looking at economic harm that will result.”

Governor Ron DeSantis responded Thursday morning calling the mandate unconstitutional.

The state will move forward with its legal challenge in federal court.

FGCU professor Seay says that adds pressure to companies statewide. “This puts businesses in a state of limbo, what do they do? Do they follow federal law? Or do they follow state law? They are caught in the middle.”

Seay said, “Right now, we have some unsettled questions relating to the legality of this particular vaccine mandate. And whether or not the state has the right to say no.”

Alfie Oakes, the CEO of Oakes Farms and the owner of Seed to Table said, “it’s unamerican, it’s unconstitutional. It’s unhealthy. And it’s insanity.”

Oaks is outspoken on his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I don’t want the government tell me I have to smoke cigarettes. And I damn sure don’t want the government tell me that I have to put this unknown vaccine in my veins.”

That’s why he has no plans to comply with president Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. Oakes said, “I’ve never taken myself, my family never, never imposed on my employees. And we will never do weekly testing, or masks or any of that other insanity.”

Oaks made his stance clear; mandate or not he won’t require shots or testing for his employees. “I’m willing to accept whatever punishment they come on, and, but I’m never gonna pay a fine,” said Oakes.

That fine is $14,000 per violation.

Oakes said, “this is directly to Joe Biden, I welcome him to come in, and make us do it, because he will be met with the utmost resistance.”

Businesses have one month to decide if they’ll require vaccines or go the testing route.

Nursing homes and hospitals won’t have a choice and must require vaccines.

The mandate goes into effect on January 4.

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