Metro Atlanta business owners torn on Pres. Biden’s new vaccine mandate

ATLANTA — President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he is taking his most aggressive stance toward getting Americans vaccinated yet.

He is mandating that businesses with more than 100 employees require their workers to get vaccinated, which would affect an estimated 80 million Americans.

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“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us,” the president said Thursday.

Attorney Jessica Cino with Krevolin and Horst says that the president is well within his legal authority to mandate vaccinations by using the Labor Department to make this an issue of workplace safety.

“Before, it was highly encouraged, recommended, but I think that definitely has changed the dynamic,” she told Channel 2′s Matt Johnson.

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Zach Steed is the CEO of Seahorse Group and runs a Captain D’s and a Moe’s in the metro area. He is not as convinced that mandating vaccinations will help solve their worker shortage.

“I think there would be a lot of resistance in this labor market that we’re in,” he said.

Steed said he offers incentives for his 75 employees to get vaccinated, but is worried that a mandate could make it even harder to hire new people.

“As hard as it is for us to find people who are ready to work, we don’t want to run anybody off. So we’re not trying to mandate anything right now,” he told Johnson.

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At the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, employees and guests alike are required to be vaccinated, unless they can prove they’re virus-free.

“If you come to see a show at the Alliance, you know, that everyone you’re sitting with is either vaccinated as presented a negative COVID test. There’ll be wearing masks in the air will be scrubbed regularly,” Mike Schleifer with the theater said.

The same policy is in effect at the Actors Express Theater in Atlanta.

“It’s hard to focus on that experience if you’re worried about safety. So we decided to implement as many measures as possible to really keep our audiences safe,” said Ali White with Actors Express.

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Some say a mandate in the private sector crosses a line they say could lead to even more vaccine hesitancy.

“It adds to a level of big government that, that I think a lot of Americans will find overly intrusive, whether or not they support vaccines,” Barrow County resident Alex Ward said.

The Georgia Department of Public Health is reporting nearly 6,000 new COVID-19 cases daily. They say 45% of Georgians are fully vaccinated.