Contractors face Dec. 8 deadline for vaccines

New COVID-19 guidance directs federal contractors and subcontractors to make sure their employees are vaccinated — the latest in a series of new vaccine requirements the White House has been rolling out in recent weeks.

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The White House announced that all federal contractors and subcontractors must vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8 and comply with masking and physical distancing measures in contractor workplaces.

New guidance published on Friday covers full-time and part-time employees, including remote employees tied to covered contracts who were continuing to work from their residences due to the pandemic.

The guidance also required employees and visitors in contractor workplaces to follow safety guidelines issued by the CDC, which recommend wearing cloth face coverings and practicing social distancing in workplace settings.

According to Jason Miller, deputy director for management of the Office of Management and Budget, the new guidance "advances one of the main goals of this science-based plan: getting more people vaccinated."

The guidance applies to virtually all federal contractor and subcontractor employees, including those who are not working directly on covered contracts. Exceptions were only made for employees "legally entitled to an accommodation."

President Joe Biden established the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of an effort to reduce the spread of the virus and decrease worker absences and additional labor costs.

The guidance is the latest in a series of vaccine mandates the White House has rolled out in recent weeks. The administration previously issued requirements for all federal employees to get vaccinated no later than November 22, as well as private-sector employees at companies that employ more than 100 people and health care workers at facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid -- sweeping measures that may impact as many as 100 million Americans.