JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – With the deadline coming quickly for the federal vaccine mandate for large employers and new legislation from the Tennessee General Assembly, the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce is weighing in on how businesses can navigate confusing vaccine regulations.
During last week’s special session on COVID-19 mandates, the Tennessee House and Senate passed a measure that bans employers of any size to implement a vaccine mandate for employees. Governor Bill Lee has yet to sign the legislation into law.
The federal mandate requires vaccinations for employers with more than 100 employees. Employees under this mandate must be vaccinated by January 4, or be tested for COVID weekly. Employees in certain industries like health care are not eligible for testing.
During the Tennessee special session, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce addressed a letter to the General Assembly condemning the legislation as an encroachment on the decision-making of private businesses.
Johnson City Chamber President Bob Cantler said he agreed with the Tennessee chamber letter. He said it is not a government’s place to determine what businesses can or cannot do.
“We want as much flexibility and opportunity for a local business to make their own decisions. It’s always concerning when you have additional regulations or mandates or anything like that,” Cantler said. “It’s a philosophical tough thing for us to deal with.”
Cantler said the chamber is currently figuring out how to navigate the conflicting legislation between the federal mandate and the state mandate ban.
“Now that it’s done and the die is cast, we need to figure out how do we manage that?” Cantler said. “In the next week or two, we’re going to be communicating to our members and all of our business owners as to what the guidelines are.”