President Joe Biden previously expressed his plan to issue a temporary mandatory face mask standard in workplaces, which should have been enacted on or before his 55th day in office. However, it seems he missed this deadline while discussions about a possible new federal standard for privately owned businesses continue.
On Jan. 21, a day after his inauguration, the president approved an executive order, directing for his administration to consider if the country needs temporary emergency standards with regards to COVID-19 and workspaces. He also directed them to issue this by March 15.
That deadline, however, has come and gone, and the administration did not issue any mandate.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, with the directive, the president wanted to make sure workers are safe. She also mentioned that Biden had instructed OSHA to review whether they need a temporary standard to protect workers from the virus.
Psaki added that “OSHA has been working diligently” but the administration believes that the agency should have enough time to make sure they do things properly. Psaki added that the administration is waiting for OSHA to make a conclusion.
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On Monday, a CBS News report cited three people close to the talks. The report said the national standard will receive approval eventually.
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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is under the Labor Department. The president instructed this agency to lead the review. However, OSHA has not issued an emergency temporary standard since 1983.
With many states and even private businesses having mask mandates of their own, as well as the distribution of vaccines and the lower COVID-19 case numbers in the country, it might be difficult to justify issuing an emergency standard. It could even lead to legal challenges.
Psaki said on Monday that no federal rules are in place at the moment. She added that they plan on letting OSHA release their guidelines first. Then, they plan on making sure Americans understand why these are in place. Although, Psaki thinks many business owners would be supportive of this action.