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NH businesses push back against federal vaccine mandate

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 4:44 PM EST
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CONCORD, N.H. (WCAX) - Business owners in New Hampshire are pushing back against a federal vaccine mandate for private companies with 100 employees or more. It comes as a federal appeals court puts a temporary pause on the Biden administration’s new vaccine requirement.

It’s estimated the federal vaccine mandate affects more than 700 businesses in the Granite State, totaling 250,000 employees. Monday, several of those business owners were speaking out against the mandate.

“Like everyone else, everyone is looking for employees and we are in the same boat,” said Tom Boucher of Great NH Restaurants.

Boucher owns 10 restaurants in New Hampshire. He says if the federal vaccine requirement for businesses with more than 100 employees goes into effect on Jan. 4 as planned, he will be even shorter staffed than he is right now.

“We are scrambling to try to figure out how we manage this because we will absolutely lose employees over this,” Boucher said.

Boucher was one of three prominent business owners in the Granite State who spoke out about the proposed federal requirement. They were flanked by New Hampshire’s governor and the state’s attorney general.

“For me to have to take a position that is forced upon me that I didn’t get to choose and then have team members walk away, that is not easy,” said Amanda Osmer of the Grappone Auto Group.

Under the federal executive order, employees who do not get vaccinated will need to be tested weekly.

“New Hampshire just doesn’t have the testing capacity to handle this requirement,” said Kathy Garfield of Keller Companies.

New Hampshire has signed onto a lawsuit challenging the vaccination requirement. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court has temporarily put a hold on the order.

But some employers in New Hampshire have already implemented a vaccine requirement. That includes the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System and its roughly 14,000 employees. Officials there say vaccines are safe, effective and the right thing to do.

Gov. Chris Sununu says it should be up to individual employers, not the federal government, to make that call.

“If businesses don’t want to have a mandate, they shouldn’t. If they want to have a mandate, that is their decision. They are private entities and that is exactly why the government shouldn’t be getting involved on one side or the other,” said Sununu, R-New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s attorney general says the current stay on the mandate will likely make its way up to the Supreme Court as the case is litigated.

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