The National Grocers Association has written a letter to the Biden administration urging the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration to consider exempting businesses in the food supply chain from the COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Mandate.
This request follows the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to lift the stay on the Emergency Temporary Standard.
NGA outlined concerns and the challenges faced by the independent supermarket sector in light of an acute workforce shortage, the holiday rush and changing consumer behaviors because of a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases.
“We fear an untenable situation should OSHA restore the vaccine and testing mandate on grocers at this time,” NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara wrote in the letter. “Our members are reporting that many employees intend to quit if required to submit to vaccines or weekly tests. Even if employees opt for weekly testing, grocers are reporting they cannot currently procure enough tests to satisfy the number of employees that require testing.
“Simply put, we expect significant disruptions to the industry’s ability to supply a hungry American public with needed food and consumer goods should the mandate go forward as planned,” Ferrara wrote.
The letter requests OSHA to “reconsider an exemption for the essential workforce in the food industry so we can keep hungry Americans fed without disruption.”
Absent an exemption, the letter urges the administration “to delay the mandate and partner with NGA and the food industry to increase vaccination rates through voluntary efforts.”
NGA continues to engage with the administration on industry challenges as the agency deliberates its next steps.
Text of the complete letter can be found here.
NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale community grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats.
The independent grocery sector is accountable for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating more than $250 billion in sales, 1.1 million jobs, $39 billion in wages and $36 billion in taxes. For more information, visit nationalgrocers.org.