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Bartender Alyssa Dooley makes a cocktail at Mo’s Irish Pub on Tuesday in Houston. The health care and hospitality industries are ahead of the curve when it comes to requiring their employees to get tested for the new coronavirus or get any COVID-19 vaccines, a report finds. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — A majority of small businesses are not requiring their employees to get tested for the new coronavirus or get any COVID-19 vaccines, though the health care and hospitality industries are ahead of the curve on this requirement, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The bureau’s most recent Small Business Pulse Survey showed 70 percent of the small businesses surveyed said “no” when asked if they had required employees to test negative for COVID-19 before coming to work in the last week. Another 10 percent said “yes” and almost 20 percent said the question was not applicable.

Of the small businesses, two sectors, health care and accommodations/food service had higher rates than the national average – respectively 15.5 percent and 14.3 percent.

When asked if employees were asked to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination in the past week, 2.2 percent of the small businesses answered “yes” and 78.4 percent answered “no,” with 19.4 percent saying it wasn’t applicable, according to the survey.

However, 62 percent of small businesses in the health care industry said they were requiring a vaccine, the survey said.

The latest Small Business Pulse Survey is among a series of surveys the Census Bureau has conducted since last spring to measure the effect of the pandemic. It was conducted February 15-21 when the survey was sent to approximately 100,000 businesses. About 25,000 businesses responded.

The small businesses have less than 500 employees and are in a single location.

The latest survey asked the small businesses what changes they had made to their capital expenditures last year. Almost a quarter of respondents said they had postponed planned spending, 15.6 percent had decreased expenditures and 12.8 percent had canceled some spending, the survey said.

When asked about what effect the pandemic has had on their businesses overall, responses by the small businesses were relatively unchanged over the past three months. Around 44 percent say it has had a moderately negative effect, almost 30 percent says it has had a large negative effect, 19 percent say it has had little to no effect, 5.6 percent say it has had a moderately positive effect and 1.7 percent say it has had a large positive effect.


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