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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday

A U.S. federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted the Biden administration's vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers.

U.S. appeals court temporarily halts Biden's vaccine mandate on large businesses

A COVID-19 vaccine is seen being prepared in Brattleboro, Vt., on Saturday. The Biden administration has been encouraging widespread vaccinations as the quickest way to end the pandemic that has claimed more than 750,000 lives in the U.S. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer/The Associated Press)

The latest:

A U.S. federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted the Biden administration's vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that those workers be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said the action stops Democrat President Joe Biden "from moving forward with his unlawful overreach."

"[The president] will not impose medical procedures on the American people without the checks and balances afforded by our Constitution," said a statement from Landry, a Republican.

Such circuit decisions normally apply to states within a district — Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, in this case — but Landry said the language employed by the judges gave the decision a national scope.

The U.S. Labour Department's top legal advisor, Solicitor of Labour Seema Nanda, said the department is "confident in its legal authority to issue the emergency temporary standard on vaccination and testing."

OSHA has the authority "to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them," she said.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department, Anthony Coley, said in a statement: "The OSHA emergency temporary standard is a critical tool to keep America's workplaces safe as we fight our way out of this pandemic. The Justice Department will vigorously defend this rule in court."

At least 27 states filed lawsuits challenging the rule in several circuits, some of which were made more conservative by the judicial appointments of former Republican President Donald Trump.

The Biden administration has been encouraging widespread vaccinations as the quickest way to end the pandemic that has claimed more than 750,000 lives in the United States.

The administration says it is confident that the requirement, which includes penalties of nearly $14,000 US per violation, will withstand legal challenges in part because its safety rules pre-empt state laws.

The 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans, said it was delaying the federal vaccine requirement because of potential "grave statutory and constitutional issues" raised by the plaintiffs. The government must provide an expedited reply to the motion for a permanent injunction Monday, followed by petitioners' reply on Tuesday.


What's happening across Canada

People wearing face masks are pictured in Montreal on Saturday. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada)
  • Epidemiologist warns testing delays in northern B.C. likely contributing to spread.
  • At least 13 restaurants in Alta. penalized for not screening for vaccine status.
  • Sask. still has country's highest COVID-19 death rate, 5th wave a possibility: officials.
  • ANALYSIS | New Man. premier faces test as cases mount in south.
  • 'Widespread community transmission' in Whitehorse, officials say.

What's happening around the world

As of Saturday, more than 249.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than five million.

In Europe, Ukraine reported a one-day record of 793 deaths while neighbouring Russia reported a record 41,335 new cases. Both countries are struggling with strained health-care systems and low vaccine uptake.

Workers stand by oxygen tanks for an ICU as medical staff carry the body of a patient who died from COVID-19 at the morgue of a hospital in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on Saturday. (Andriy Andriyenko/The Associated Press)

In Asia-Pacific, Australia reached a full inoculation rate of 80 per cent of those aged 16 and older, a number Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a "magnificent milestone" on the path to becoming one of the world's most vaccinated countries against COVID-19.

In the Americas, Chile's presidential candidates had to host news conferences from home and cancel travel plans as five out of seven candidates were forced to isolate for a week after left-wing hopeful Gabriel Boric tested positive for COVID-19.

In Africa, more than 8.5 million cases have so far been confirmed across the continent, along with more than 218,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization Africa Region. South Africa leads the continent on both counts, with more than 2.9 million cases and 89,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

With files from Reuters and CBC News

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