WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extended the comment period for the COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS) to Jan. 19, 2022.

OSHA extended the comment period by 45 days to allow stakeholders additional time to review the ETS and collect information and data necessary for comment.

Parties interested in submitting comments can do so electronically at regulations.gov, which is the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. The Federal e-Rulemaking Portal is the only way to submit comments on this rule. The identifying docket number is OSHA-2021-0007. Review the Federal Register notice for more details.

On Nov. 5, OSHA issued an ETS with the intent of protecting workers from the spread of coronavirus on the job. The ETS covers employers with 100 or more employees. Covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. Businesses have until Jan. 4 to comply.

In an opinion filed Nov. 12, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its decision to stay the vaccine mandate. The court declined to lift the stay it placed on the mandate on Nov. 6 and ordered OSHA to “take no steps to implement or enforce” the ETS “until further court order.”

On OSHA’s website, the agency states: “While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation.”

The extension comes at a time where a new COVID variant, dubbed Omicron, has been identified in different parts of the world. Tests to determine whether the variant is more dangerous than Delta are underway, with results expected in the coming weeks.