By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado businesses with more than 100 employees will now have to ensure all of their staff is vaccinated or has a negative COVID-19 test weekly. Illegal Pete’s is a Colorado-grown company that over the last 10 years has expanded into two states and now 12locations. They employ just under 400 people.

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“It was a little more overarching than we anticipated,” Devin Rombough, Director of Operations for the restaurant said.

He was watching when President Joe Biden detailed the new requirements in a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

“This isn’t about freedom or personal choice, it’s about protecting yourself and those around you,” Biden said.

Rombough says most of their staff is already vaccinated but worries about the impact to those remaining few.

“When it’s already kind of tough and challenging to hire somebody, you know those are the employees that I’m concerned we may lose.”

(Photo by Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

He says they discussed a vaccine mandate early on and decided against it, putting their efforts into supporting staff instead.

“We were able to get to our 90% to 95% rate just through education, time off and supporting our staff to make these decisions and take care of themselves without losing pay,” he said.

Their focus now is figuring out how it will all work, from tracking employee vaccinations and weekly test results to enforcement.

“I’m very curious to see how that goes from him to OSHA to us. Who follows up with these things? What is the incentive and how are they are going to tie it all together? So, we are kind of just in a waiting, in a holding pattern,” he said.

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But after more than a year trying to navigate COVID-19 restrictions on their industry, he says they support any effort to keep doors open.

According to the president, the new requirements for large businesses alone will impact about 80 million Americans. He says companies that fail to comply could face fines of $14,000 per violation.

Karen Morfitt