Biden's vaccine mandate to begin in January

U.S. companies with more than 100 employees can breathe a little easier for now.

The Biden Administration will begin enforcing a mandate that private-sector workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly starting Jan. 4, according to U.S. officials.

By setting the deadline in the new year it gives a reprieve to companies already grappling with the prospect of a labor shortage during the crucial holiday season.

Business leaders and industry groups representing retailers, logistics companies and construction workers lobbied the administration for a delay in the mandate.

U.S. officials also said on Thursday a requirement that federal contractors be vaccinated was moved back a month to the same date in January.

Millions of workers in healthcare facilities and nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid will need to get their shots by Jan. 4 as well.

Employers will not be required to provide or pay for tests and the rule offers medical and religious exemptions.

Failure to comply with the mandate will result in an approximately $14,000 fine per non vaccinated worker.

The requirement is part of a Biden plan to get vaccination rates up and get more people back to work.

But Republican lawmakers like Senator Jerry Moran from Kansas are opposed.

"Ask the president to not be tone-deaf, President Biden step forward and alter this, eliminate this mandate, and let the decision be made back home between employee and employer."

The mandate has also irked workers and union leaders - leading to a few small protests across the country.

Legal battles to try and block the mandate are expected, hinging on a rarely used law and questions over federal power and authority over healthcare.

The Biden Administration believes the emergency mandate stands on solid legal footing.