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US President Joe Biden. Source: Reuters
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  • Federal workers and onsite contractors in the US must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to work
  • The federal government is the largest employer in the US and Mr Biden’s move could serve as a model for private businesses to follow
  • US President Joe Biden is also calling on states and local governments to use funding they have received to give $100 to anyone who gets fully vaccinated

Federal workers and onsite contractors will have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or wear masks, practise social distancing and submit to regular testing under sweeping new guidelines President Joe Biden announced overnight in Washington.

“It’s an American blessing that we have vaccines for each and every American […] it’s just such a shame to squander that blessing,” Mr Biden said.

He announced that the millions of Americans working for the federal government would be forced to show proof of vaccination or face regular testing. 

This more aggressive push from the White House comes as the Delta variant surges parts of the US, thriving among the unvaccinated. 

“If you’re at home and vaccinated, but anxious or even angry, if you’re at home and unvaccinated, unbothered and unconvinced, let’s step back and see where we are,” the President said.

“Just remember how we’ve emerged from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer. But really remember just how dark that winter was.” 

Mr Biden pleaded with reluctant Americans to help get the “job done” and to beat back COVID with “science and facts”. 

Knowing that might not be enough, he also sweetened the deal by asking local officials to offer cash for getting vaccinated. 

“Today I’m calling on all states and local governments to use funding they have received, including from the American Rescue Plan, to give $100 to anyone who gets fully vaccinated.

“I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks who have gotten vaccinated already. But here’s the deal. If incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them. We all benefit if we can get more people vaccinated.” 

For those civilian government employees who still resist the vaccine, they will be subject to weekly or twice-weekly COVID tests, mask requirements and restrictions on official travel. 

The federal government is the largest employer in the US and Mr Biden’s move could serve as a model for private businesses to follow. 

Along with the new requirements, the White House said Mr Biden was also directing the Defense Department to look into “how and when” it will require members of the military to take the vaccine.

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