GE suspends Covid vaccine, take a look at guidelines after excessive courtroom nixes Biden mandate

An employee helps install a traction motor on the truck of a General Electric Evolution Series Tier 4 diesel locomotive at the GE Manufacturing Solutions facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

Luke Sharret | Bloomberg | Getty Images

General Electric suspended its Covid vaccine and testing requirements on Friday after the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s mandate, a company spokesman told CNBC.

GE, which had 174,000 employees at the end of 2020, has encouraged its employees to get vaccinated, the spokesman said.

The conservative majority of the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision, called the Biden administration’s requirements a “blunt instrument” that “makes no distinctions by industry or risk of exposure to Covid-19.”

In a statement following the court decision, President Joe Biden urged companies to voluntarily implement the vaccination and testing rules.

“The court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this action,” Biden said. “But that doesn’t stop me from using my voice as president to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect the health and economy of Americans.”

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has vowed to use the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s existing power to hold companies accountable for protecting workers from Covid.

“We urge all employers to require workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly to most effectively combat this deadly virus in the workplace,” Walsh said in a statement Thursday. “Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers in the workplace.”

The American Medical Association, one of the largest medical associations in the US, contradicted that the Supreme Court blocked “one of the most effective tools in the fight against further transmission and death from this aggressive virus”.

“Workplace transmission has been an important factor in the spread of Covid-19,” said AMA President Dr. Gerald Harmon. “More than ever, workers in all settings across the country need sound, evidence-based protection from Covid-19 infection, hospitalization and death.”

Harmon urged companies to protect their workers from the disease. A number of large companies – including Citigroup, Nike and Columbia Sportswear – have announced plans to lay off unvaccinated workers.

The Covid-Omicron variant is driving new infections to unprecedented levels. The US is reporting an average of more than 786,000 new infections each day, a 29% increase from the previous week, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Additionally, based on federal data going back to the summer of 2020, hospitalizations are at a pandemic high. About 151,000 Americans were in hospitals with Covid as of Friday, a seven-day moving average of health and social services data shows, up 23%. from a week earlier. That number includes both patients who have been admitted to hospital due to Covid and those who have tested positive after admission.

— CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report

Supreme Courtroom blocks Biden Covid vaccine mandate for companies, permits health-care employee rule

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its comprehensive vaccination or testing requirements for large private companies, but allowed a vaccination mandate for medical facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments.

The verdicts came three days after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency measures for companies went into effect.

The mandate required workers in companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or present a negative Covid test weekly to enter the workplace. Also, unvaccinated workers were required to wear masks when working indoors.

“Although Congress has undeniably granted OSHA authority to regulate occupational hazards, it has not conferred that agency authority to regulate public health more broadly,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.

“Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans selected solely because they work for employers with more than 100 employees certainly falls into the latter category,” the court wrote.

A protester holds a “Freedoms & Mandates Don’t Mix” sign in front of the US Supreme Court Friday, January 7, 2022 while discussing two federal vaccination measures in Washington, DC, United States.

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Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan disagreed, writing that the majority had usurped power from Congress, the President and OSHA without legal basis.

“With the pandemic still raging, this court is telling the agency charged with protecting worker safety that it may not do so in all required workplaces,” they said in dissent.

“As sickness and death continue to rise, this court is telling the Authority that it cannot respond as effectively as possible. Without a legal basis, the court usurps a decision that rightfully belongs to others. It undermines the capacity of appropriate federal officials to act well within their authority to protect American workers from serious danger,” they wrote.

President Joe Biden said in a statement the Supreme Court chose to block requirements that are life-saving for workers. Biden called on states and companies to increase and voluntarily implement vaccination requirements to protect workers, customers and the broader community.

“The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the powers granted to it by Congress to require this action, but that does not prevent me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing, to protect the health and economy of Americans,” Biden said.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh called the court’s decision a major setback to the health and safety of workers and vowed OSHA would use its existing authority to ensure companies protect workers. The American Medical Association, one of the largest medical associations in the country, said it was “deeply disappointed”.

“In the face of an ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic that poses a grave threat to the health of our nation, the Supreme Court today halted one of the most powerful tools in the fight against further transmission and death from this aggressive virus,” the AMA said said President Gerald Harmon.

In a separate ruling released at the same time on the government’s vaccination rules for healthcare workers, a 5-4 majority sided with the Biden administration.

“We agree with the government that the [Health and Human Services] The secretary’s rule falls within the powers conferred on him by Congress,” said the majority, writing that the rule “fits very well with the language of the statute”.

“Finally, ensuring that providers take steps to avoid transmitting a dangerous virus to their patients is consistent with the fundamental principle of the medical profession: First, do no harm,” says the majority opinion.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, four of the six Conservatives on the nine-seat bench, disagreed.

“I don’t think the federal government is likely to show that Congress authorized the unprecedented move to force over 10,000,000 healthcare workers to be vaccinated under threat of dismissal,” Alito wrote in his dissent.

Biden said in a statement that making vaccinations compulsory for healthcare workers will save the lives of patients, doctors and nurses. “We will enforce it,” the president said of the mandate.

OSHA, which oversees workplace safety for the Department of Labor, granted the business mandate under its emergency powers established by Congress. OSHA can cut short the normal rulemaking process, which can take years, when the Secretary of Labor determines that a new occupational safety standard is needed to protect workers from a serious hazard.

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The court’s decision to overturn the business mandate comes as the pandemic rages across the United States and the highly contagious Omicron variant is sparking an unprecedented surge in new infections. The US is reporting an average of 786,000 new infections daily, a pandemic record and a 37% increase from last week, according to CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Hospital admissions have also reached a pandemic peak, according to federal data dating back to the summer of 2020. According to a seven-day average of Department of Health and Human Services data, 149,000 Americans are in US hospitals with Covid, a 27% increase. last week.

The vaccination or testing rules have faced a number of lawsuits from 27 states involving Republican attorneys general or governors, private companies, religious groups and national business organizations such as the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Associations and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The NRF issued a statement calling the Supreme Court ruling a “victory” and calling on the Biden administration to “reject this unlawful mandate and instead work with employers, workers and public health professionals on practical ways to increase immunization rates and contain it.” the spread of the virus in 2022.”

The mandates were the most extensive use of power by the federal government to protect workers from Covid since the pandemic began. Taken together, the Biden administration estimated that the rules for businesses and healthcare workers would apply to about 100 million Americans.

But both rules were in flux long before the Supreme Court adopted them. The OSHA rules were blocked by a conservative federal appeals court in November, then Reinstated weeks later by another court.

The White House at the time urged companies to follow public safety requirements even if they were not enforced.

Some companies have done this, others have introduced their own rules. A number of large employers, including Citigroup, Nike and Columbia Sportswear, have announced plans to lay off unvaccinated workers in recent days.

— CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.

Federal court docket reinstates Biden administration’s enterprise vaccine mandate

United States President Joe Biden speaks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, USA on Wednesday, November 3, 2021.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A federal appeals court reinstated the Biden government’s vaccine and testing requirements for private companies, which include some 80 million American workers.

The Cincinnati 6th Court of Appeal’s ruling overturned a November restraining order that blocked the Labor Protection Agency’s rule that applies to companies with 100 or more employees.

In Friday’s ruling, the court found that OSHA “has demonstrated the pervasive danger that COVID-19 poses to workers – especially those who have not been vaccinated – in their workplaces.

The Justice Department argued last week that blocking the requests would do “enormous” damage to the public as hospitals prepare for an increase in Covid cases this winter and the heavily mutated Omicron variant gaining a foothold in more states.

“COVID-19 is spreading to workplaces and workers are being hospitalized and dying,” the Justice Department argued in a court file on Friday. “As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise and a new variant has emerged, the threat to workers is persistent and overwhelming.”

The policy required companies with 100 or more employees to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated by Jan 4th or have a negative Covid test weekly to enter the workplace. Unvaccinated workers were required to wear masks indoors from December 5th.

Republican attorneys general, private companies, and industry groups such as the National Retail Federation, American Trucking Associations, and the National Federation of Independent Business sued for repeal of the policy. They argued that the requirements are unnecessary, place compliance costs on businesses, and exceed the powers of the federal government.

The Biden administration stopped implementing and enforcing the requirements last month to comply with an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th District in New Orleans. Judge Kurt D. Englehardt said in an opinion for a three-person committee that the requirements were “surprisingly too broad” and raised “serious constitutional concerns”.

The more than two dozen lawsuits filed against the vaccine and testing requirements were transferred to the Sixth Circuit last month after the Biden government launched a cross-district judicial process to randomly consolidate the case in a single court.

The Justice Department argued in its trial last week that the labor protection agency that developed the requirements acted within their emergency powers established by Congress. The Biden government rejected opponents who claimed workers were quitting because of the policy, saying the compliance costs were “modest”.

“The threat to people’s life and health also far outweighs petitioners’ suspicions about the number of workers who may quit instead of getting vaccinated or tested,” the Justice Department wrote on its file, arguing that many workers are who say they will stop completing in the end with vaccination orders.

OSHA, which oversees occupational safety for the Department of Labor, developed the vaccine and testing requirements under emergency powers that allow the agency to shorten the normal rulemaking process, which can take years. OSHA may issue an emergency workplace safety standard if the Secretary of Labor determines that a standard is required to protect workers from serious danger.

The White House has repeatedly argued that Covid poses a serious threat to workers, highlighting the appalling death toll from the pandemic and rising Covid infections in the United States

Reuters contributed to this report.

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California imposes indoor masks mandate no matter vaccination standing

A face-covering sign will be posted in Grand Central Market on July 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

California will issue a nationwide mask mandate for indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status for the next month, the state’s chief health officer said on Monday.

The mask mandate comes into effect on Wednesday and, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, in effect through January 15.

California health officials also recommend residents returning from trips to the state and tourists visiting to get a Covid test within three to five days of their arrival.

Even the most populous state in the United States requires visitors to events with more than 1,000 participants to pass a negative Covid test if there is no proof of vaccination. Participants must submit the test within one day of the event if it is an antigen test and within two days if it is a PCR test.

“We know that people are tired and hungry for normalcy. To be honest, I am too,” Ghaly told reporters on Monday. “But this is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked and can work.”

Ghaly said the mask mandate was needed to reduce Covid infections, which have increased 47% in California since Thanksgiving. The state’s top health official said the highly mutated omicron strain of the virus had unsettled the pandemic.

California reported the first confirmed case of Omicron in the United States on December 1.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has also issued a statewide masking mandate for indoor public spaces unless the company has a mandatory vaccination requirement. The New York mandate went into effect on Monday and will last until January 15.

States are taking different approaches to tackling Covid as hospital admissions increase across the Colorado US government. Jared Polis said Friday that widespread vaccines have made nationwide mask requirements obsolete. He said people are personally responsible for getting vaccinated and the potential health consequences if they don’t.

“The emergency is over” Polis told Colorado Public Radio. “Healthcare [officials] Don’t tell people what to wear; that’s just not their job. “

“Everyone has had more than enough opportunities to get vaccinated,” said Polis. “If you haven’t been vaccinated at this point, it’s really your own damn fault.”

About 66,500 Americans have been hospitalized with Covid-19, up 22% over the past two weeks, according to a seven-day average of the Department of Health’s data through Monday. The Delta variant of Covid is driving the increase in hospital admissions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Omicron variant is now present in more than two dozen countries. White House senior medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, said earlier this month there is “no doubt” that Omicron is spreading into churches across the United States

In the United Kingdom, which reported its first death from Omicron on Monday, the variant is already spreading rapidly. Health Minister Sajid Javid said Omicron now accounts for 20% of infections in England and the variant is spreading at a “phenomenal rate”.

It is unclear whether Omicron generally results in milder or more severe symptoms compared to previous variants. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the rate at which the infection was spreading was worrying.

“I think the idea that this is kind of a milder version of the virus is something we need to put aside and simply recognize the sheer pace at which it is accelerating through the population,” Johnson said Monday.

Labor unions push White Home so as to add employee protections to Biden vaccine mandate

President Joe Biden watches as AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler speaks during an event honoring the unions in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2021.

Oliver Contraras | AP

Some of the largest unions in the country are urging the Biden government to expand its vaccine mandate to private companies to include additional protection for workers, including masking requirements and other safety measures to minimize the spread of Covid-19.

The AFL-CIO and about two dozen other major unions representing teachers, service workers, meat processors, auto and steel workers, spoke with the Biden government on an October 18 conference call with White House officials from the Office of Administration and Budget.

“We emphasized the importance of mitigation measures,” Rebecca Reindel, who represented the AFL-CIO on the call, told CNBC. “We really need to be one step ahead of the transmission part of the virus. It takes a while to get vaccinated – we need protection in the meantime, ”said Reindel.

Three of the largest unions, notably the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, told CNBC that they had asked the administration to expand worker protection and urged employers to stop ventilation improve and enforce the mask and social regulations distance. Reindel said companies should also be required to conduct a risk assessment in consultation with workers to determine what combination of mitigation measures are needed to best protect their employees in the workplace.

president Joe Biden ordered the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Department to draft a rule requiring private companies with 100 or more employees to ensure that they are all vaccinated or tested weekly Covid-19.

OMB and Labor Department officials have held dozens of calls and meetings with industry lobbyists over the past two weeks while OMB is reviewing the mandate, OMB records show. The vaccine and weekly testing requirements will go into effect shortly after the OMB review is complete.

The AFL-CIO has called for comprehensive measures to protect workers from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. However, OSHA, which oversees workplace safety, has not yet enacted broad-based Covid safety rules.

Instead, OSHA enacted Restrictions in summer limited to healthcare workers. Most healthcare providers have had to develop plans to mitigate the risk of Covid, ensure employees wear masks indoors that keep people 6 feet apart indoors, install barriers in workplaces when employees are less than 6 feet apart , and ensure adequate ventilation – including a number of other requirements.

The AFL-CIO and United Food and Commercial Workers sued the Biden government, arguing that the OSHA standard “does not protect employees outside the healthcare industry who are at a similarly grave risk from occupational exposure to COVID-19” . The unions specially quoted meat packaging, groceries, transportation and corrections as industries where workers need the Department of Labor to issue an enforceable safety standard for Covid.

The unions and the Ministry of Labor tabled a joint application in September pause the case until the vaccination and weekly test mandate is granted to the Biden administration. The court will ask the parties to submit a joint status report on Monday.

“The harsh reality is that current COVID safety guidelines just aren’t enough and have left millions of key workers to their own devices,” said Marc Perrone, President of United Food and Commercial Workers. said in August after OSHA issued voluntary guidelines recommending masks for vaccinated employees working in areas with high transmission. “What we need now is a clearly enforceable COVID safety standard in the workplace that will protect America’s vital workers who are still at the forefront of this deadly pandemic.”

Perrone said his union is now waiting to see if mitigation measures are included in the vaccine and testing mandate. “If we still have concerns, we will move on,” he said, referring to the trial. The group represents 1.3 million employees in the food, retail, meat packaging, food processing, cannabis, chemical and distillery sectors, including employees from Tysons Food, Kroger, Macy’s, Cargill and Pfizer. People in these industries are largely viewed as key frontline workers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The UFCW warned in a letter to the Department of Labor in August that vaccinations – even if important – cannot remove the danger posed by Covid to workers as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads the effectiveness of vaccines over time subsides and new mutations of the virus emerge.

The AFL-CIO, in a May report, found 1,833 Covid outbreaks, nearly 90,000 infections and 378 deaths in the meat packaging, food processing and agriculture industries from the start of the pandemic in April 2020 to April 2020. A report by the House Select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis found infections among meat packing workers almost three times as high as previously reported.

“There will be certain people who won’t take [the vaccine] and get tested, and if you don’t have mitigation measures like masks then you’re defeating your purpose, “Perrone told CNBC.

The Service Employees International Union asked the von Biden government in September to add additional protective measures to the vaccination mandate. The union represents 2 million workers in basic services such as janitorial, health and other professions.

“Layered mitigation measures, including but not limited to masking and distancing, as well as quarantine after exposure or positive testing, are still necessary to protect against outbreaks,” wrote Leslie Frane, the union’s executive vice-president, in a letter to the union in September OSHA chief James Frederick.

The SEIU and UFCW have also called for paid vacations for workers to get vaccinated and recover from the shot, paid vacations for workers to quarantine and recover from the virus, and free Covid tests for Workers with testing facilities at the workplace. The Biden government said in September that it would also require companies with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for vaccination and recovery.

The United Auto Workers declined to expressly comment on whether the vaccine and test mandate should include measures to contain Covid. The big three automakers have already implemented extensive security protocols against Covid. While the union is generally in favor of vaccination, it rejects it under federal or employer mandate. The union will review the vaccine and testing mandate when it is released, UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg told CNBC.

“We’re waiting for the standards because we have over 700 contracts and we need to go through them and see how they affect our contracts,” he said.

United Airways says 593 staff face termination for failing to adjust to vaccine mandate

United Airlines said Tuesday that 593 of its employees will be fired for non-compliance with the Covid-19 vaccination policy, one of the strictest vaccination regulations for any US company.

More than 96% of United’s 67,000 employees in the United States met vaccine requirements. The deadline for uploading vaccination records or first vaccination when receiving a two-dose vaccine was late Monday.

Around 2,000 United employees requested exemptions from the mandate the airline announced in the summer for religious or medical reasons. The Chicago-based airline had said that employees it grants such exemptions will be used temporary unpaid leave.

“And we know that this decision was hesitant for some. But we have no doubt that some of you will have avoided future hospitalization – or even death – because you got vaccinated, “said United CEO Scott Kirby and Company President Brett Hart said the Employees on Tuesday in a note.

Unvaccinated employees without an exception are threatened with dismissal, although this process can take weeks. “It was an incredibly difficult decision, but the safety of our team has always been our top priority,” said United’s Kirby and Hart. Staff who did not upload proof of vaccine included various working groups such as pilots, flight attendants and mechanics, a spokesman said, declining to provide further details.

However, a United spokesperson said the company was ready to work with some unvaccinated employees during the termination process if they change their minds about vaccination. The airline does not expect any operational problems due to layoffs, the spokesman added.

Workers laid off for not vaccinating would be dismissed for violating a company safety policy, which could prevent them from being entitled to unemployment benefits.

Dozens of employees had given their vaccination cards to the company in the last few days before the deadline, CNBC reported Tuesday.

The number of flight attendants who had not sent in their vaccination card and had not received a special permit fell by around half from the weekend to Monday and fell further to below 100 on Tuesday, as the association of flight attendants represents the approximately 23,000 cabin crew members of the airline.

More than 500 United employees, represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers by Monday afternoon, hadn’t uploaded a vaccination record, but fewer than 400 as of Tuesday, according to District 141 President Mike Klemm. The union represents more than 25,000 United employees. Another 700 had received exceptions, he said. The group includes employees in fleet and passenger service.

Klemm said the union plans to file wrongful dismissal lawsuits if workers who have been vaccinated are fired.

Six United Airlines employees sued the airline in federal court in northern Texas, alleging the company failed to provide them with “reasonable accommodation” for religious or medical reasons. United said it will “continue to vigorously defend our policies”.

US companies have increasingly issued vaccination mandates for some or all of their employees, from Tyson Foods to Walmart and MC Donalds since Covid The cases increased in the summer.

president Joe Biden Earlier this month his government said Requirement that large companies require their employees to be vaccinated or have them tested regularly for Covid. The airlines say they are waiting for the details.

All major US airlines have encouraged their employees to get vaccinated, but differ in their approaches, which included extra pay or free time as an incentive. Most did not need vaccines.

Delta Airlines plans to add a $ 200 monthly surcharge to corporate health costs for unvaccinated employees in November. Delta, along with Alaska Airlines and American Airlines have said that unvaccinated employees must use their own sick leave if they miss work because of Covid. Hawaiian Airlines said staff must be vaccinated by November 1st.

Even if an airline doesn’t require vaccines, it could have an impact on where some employees might fly. For example, American Airlines told pilots on September 20 that the governments of Suriname and Canada would require airmen to be vaccinated in order to make these trips, according to a staff memo. According to their union, this also applies to flight attendants.

American expects more countries to be added to the list.

United has required pilots and flight attendants to be vaccinated in order to fly to certain destinations since August 1st. It currently includes Brazil, Peru, India, Italy and Iceland, among others.

The American Airlines and Southwest Airlines pilot unions have argued that vaccines should remain optional for pilots. The Allied Pilots Association, which represents America’s mainline pilots, wrote to the White House, the Department of Transportation, and key lawmakers last week asking for pilots to be offered an alternative to a federal vaccine mandate. About 4,200 of the approximately 14,000 pilots are not vaccinated, according to the union. The APA said a federal mandate to vaccinate could lead to vacation labor shortages and flight disruptions

Client commerce group asks Biden for readability on vaccination mandate

U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Consumer businesses have questions for President Joe Biden about his plan to increase vaccination rates.

On Thursday, Biden outlined a six-part plan to increase vaccination rates. His government will require federal employees to get vaccinated without the option of weekly Covid-19 tests. Biden also said he would ask the Department of Labor to enact a rule requiring employers with more than 100 employees to prescribe vaccines or require weekly tests.

New US Covid cases hit a seven-day moving average of 124,622 on Sunday, which is about 19% less than a week earlier, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Still, case numbers are near January levels, before Covid vaccines were available to most of the population.

The consumer brands association wrote a letter to Biden on Monday this included a “small sample” of the questions their members asked of the organization as they prepare for a vaccination mandate for their staff. The trading group represents consumer goods companies, including industry giants such as Coke, Procter & Gamble and General mills, as well as retailers Amazon, Albertsons and target.

The trade group’s questions to Biden cover a number of concerns: Does an employee need to be fully vaccinated to work? Do the requirements only apply to vaccines that are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration? What are the consequences of falsifying the vaccination or test status and is the responsibility with the individual or the employer? Are waivers permitted if the absence or fluctuation of key employees leads to significant disruptions in the CPG supply chain?

“The Consumer Brands Association and our member companies stand ready to work with you to get Americans vaccinated,” the group’s CEO Geoff Freeman wrote in the letter. “Strong, consistent collaboration between the private and public sectors on implementation will accelerate progress towards our common goal.”

The proposed mandate comes at a difficult time for these employers, who are experiencing sluggish hiring trends. In August, the consumer goods industry only created 6,000 jobs, well below need to keep pace with demand. Many companies have held back from implementing internal vaccination regulations for their workforce in order to avoid leaving unvaccinated workers.

Butler County leisure venues uncertain what influence new COVID-19 mandate can have on crowds

Under the plan, the city had 8-foot-by-8-foot squares – the size of two pieces of plywood side by side – eight feet apart, said Adam Helms, head of resident services for the city of Hamilton.

Helms hopes to use the same schedule this year for the 15 scheduled concerts held every week from late May to September, with the exception of Butler County Fair week.

He plans to put six people in each of the 100+ capsules, giving the venue a maximum of about 700 people, or 30 percent of capacity. The cost of each square ranged from $ 40 to $ 100, depending on the band.

The plan went “pretty well” last year, said Helms, who last summer didn’t add any cases of coronavirus that were attributed to RiversEdge.

Nancy Griffith, president of the Sorg Opera House Board, said the downtown Middletown venue could expand capacity from 230 to 280 following DeWine’s announcement.

Still, she said, patrons must wear masks and practice social distancing. The Sorg will host the play “Rumors” from March 5th to 6th, she said.

Adriane Scherrer, organizer of the Broad Street Bash, a summer concert series in downtown Middletown, said it was difficult to keep the crowd at 30 percent because she didn’t know the capacity. In the past the streets were closed and the crowd either sat in folding chairs or walked around.

She said the Broad Street Bash typically draws around 1,700 people to each of its concerts. She said bashes are scheduled for June 9th, June 23rd and July 14th, and the Broad Street Blast is scheduled for July 3rd.

One way to monitor the crowd would be to give out a limited number of wristbands to customers, she said.

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