Group of associations want ‘immediate clarity’ on Biden administration’s COVID-19 action plan

By Matt Egan, CNN Business

The trade group that represents mainstream brands including Coca-Cola, Kellogg and Campbell Soup sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday with a list of questions about his new vaccine tenure.

In the letter, Consumer Brands Association CEO Geoff Freeman called for “immediate clarity” on the administration’s new Covid-19 action plan.

The plan, unveiled last week, caught some in the business world off guard as it includes an emergency rule from the Department of Labor that calls on all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that all of their staff are vaccinated or regularly test negative for Covid-19. Biden officials said companies could face penalties of up to $ 14,000 per violation.

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The Consumer Brands Association – which represents the $ 2.1 billion food, beverage and consumer products industry that employs 2.1 million workers – has urged federal agencies to “act quickly, anticipate challenges, respond quickly to questions ”and partner with businesses to implement the new plan.

“The Consumer Brands Association and our member companies stand ready to work with you to get Americans vaccinated,” Freeman wrote.

The letter to Biden included a “small sample” of questions that have surfaced among business leaders, including:

  • What documentation is considered proof of vaccination and how will booster injections count towards compliance?
  • Will the requirements only apply to vaccines fully approved by the FDA?
  • Does the government plan to centralize the monitoring of vaccinations?
  • What are the consequences of falsifying her immunization status or test results?
  • What is considered appropriate documentation for a negative test result?
  • If employees choose not to vaccinate, is the company or employee responsible for obtaining and paying for the tests?
  • When will the requirements be officially issued?
  • Do the new federal requirements include exemptions for religious beliefs and disabilities?

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The questions highlight the uncertainty created by the Biden plan and hint at the frustration in business at the federal government’s response throughout the pandemic.

In an interview on Friday, Betsy Booren, vice president of regulatory affairs at the Consumer Brands Association, told CNN Business that the industry was surprised by Biden’s announcement and would have liked to see more details during the initial rollout.

“But it’s a concern I’ve had throughout this crisis, regardless of the administration in place,” Booren said. “Whether it’s the Trump administration or the Biden, getting clarification on these issues has been our concern.”

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