The U.S. Postal Service is seeking a 120-day waiver from the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, The Washington Post reported.
In a letter sent on Tuesday to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Deputy Postmaster General Douglas Tulino wrote that a vaccine mandate and weekly COVID-19 testing for employees would hurt the agency’s ability to deliver mail to residents and strain the supply chains.
The Postal Service also asked OSHA to extend its compliance deadlines for 120 days and suspend the agency's obligations under the required mandate until the courts make a final decision on the matter, according to the Post.
The latest vaccine mandate takes effect on Jan.10, but OSHA won’t issue any citations until Feb.9.
“We respectfully suggest that the nation cannot afford the additional potential substantial harm that would be engendered if the ability of the Postal Service to deliver mail and packages is significantly negatively impacted,” Tulino said in his letter.
Tulino also wrote in his letter that the agency has taken more steps to prepare its human resources software system to manage worker health data.
He added that discussions have started with labor unions about the impending mandate and that the Postal Service had begun revising its COVID-19 vaccination, testing and face-covering policy, the Post reported.
The U.S. is currently dealing with a winter surge of COVID-19 infections as the omicron variant takes hold.
In a statement, a Postal Service spokeswoman, Darlene Casey, said the agency will continue to enforce its existing coronavirus mitigation program, the Post noted.
“The Postal Service is seeking temporary relief because it wants to ensure that its ability to deliver mail and packages is not hindered amid the current disruptions in the nation’s supply chain,” Casey told the Post.“In addition, the Postal Service wants to adopt policies and procedures that comply with the [OSHA standard] while also fulfilling the organization’s other legal obligations.”