President Joe Biden’s requirement for federal workers to reveal their COVID-19 vaccination status is likely to force uncomfortable questions not only at government agencies but at private companies as well.

Right now, there’s a lack of clear answers.

Getting the policy right will take time, and vary across government agencies. The same holds for private companies, for which the White House is trying to provide a guide. It’s not like there’s a cheat sheet. Nothing on this scale has been attempted before in the face of a virus morphing in real-time to become a bigger threat.

“We developed a miracle vaccine in a very short period of time, and there has been a lot of hesitancy from the government and from businesses to run with a top-down approach,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at the workforce consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Now we’ve reached a point where it’s become very clear the individual incentive people have to protect themselves has not been strong enough to protect the country, and we’re seeing the government take this first step.”

Biden’s plan for the federal workforce, announced Thursday, stopped short of a direct order for feds to roll up their sleeves.

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Instead, workers will have to attest to whether they’re vaccinated. Although employees will not be required to produce a vaccination card, “attest” is a loaded word in the federal workplace, minutely governed by rules and regulations. It implies consequences for providing false or misleading information. How that will be enforced remains unclear, but employees who voluntarily provide valid proof of vaccination will likely settle potential questions upfront.

The unvaccinated will have to put up with regular testing, required masking, and social distancing, and they will be barred from official travel. Similar rules will be applied to federal contractors.

Continual testing raises other issues. For most people, health insurance has been paying. But will that continue if someone refuses to be vaccinated and is not eligible for medical or religious exemptions?

Masking has been a perennially touchy subject. But how will agencies enforce a masking policy if not everyone is required to be vaccinated? Will supervisors patrol the cubicles with lists of the unvaccinated?

There are many reasons why translating Biden’s order to the workplace may not go smoothly. Government agencies tend to have their own unique cultures, and their missions run the gamut. Doctors at the National Institutes of Health are probably already vaccinated, but some law enforcement agents may be wary of getting a shot not yet fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The largest union representing federal workers, the American Federation of Government Employees, already served to notice it expects any changes to working conditions will be “properly negotiated with our bargaining units prior to implementation.”

As for the Pentagon, it’s been ordered to study how and when COVID-19 vaccines will become mandatory for military personnel. Service members are already required to get as many as 17 vaccines, depending on where they are based around the world.

Even as Biden laid out his federal plan, some companies like Google were already ahead, saying they will simply require vaccination. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business organization, seconded Biden’s actions as “prudent steps to protect public health and our economic recovery.”

For public or private employees, the first and most important questions revolve around proving their vaccination status and qualifying for exceptions, said Jeff Hyman, a business author, and recruitment expert.

“Are they going to take it on faith?” asked Hyman. There is no central database that records vaccinations.

“What is the exceptions policy?” he continued. “There have got to be exceptions for religious and medical reasons, and that asterisk is going to be really important.”

But if workers seek a religious exemption, will they have to submit a note from a clergyperson?

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says an employer must provide “reasonable accommodation” for medical or religious reasons “that does not pose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.”

But companies can legally require vaccination as a “condition of employment,” the Justice Department said in a recent opinion.

Biden is taking a risk here, said Hyman, but doing nothing in the face of rising cases driven by the aggressive delta variant was not an option.

“This is super-easy to second-guess because you only find out in hindsight if you were right,” Hyman said. “We’re not going to know for a while whether this was the optimal decision, but at least he is doing something.”

News that the economy has surpassed its pre-pandemic size only underscores the significance of Biden’s move. More outbreaks and shutdowns could dampen hiring and production, creating a new political narrative for Republicans trying to regain control of Congress next year.

Then there’s the often delicate issue of workplace etiquette. How will unvaccinated employees interact with their peers who have gotten their shots? Will work units have to be split apart?

Challenger, the workforce consultant, said his company has developed a system for everyone to discreetly signal their comfort level with the interaction during the workplace re-entry. It involves wristbands colored green, yellow and red.

Green means a person is comfortable with things going back to the way they were before. Red signals others to stay 6 feet away. Yellow is an in-between zone, implying some hesitancy about chumminess.

“This is such a novel situation, there are not a lot of best practices for us to follow,” he said.

Millions of people in the U.S. who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine could soon have a new reason to roll up their sleeves: money in their pockets.

President Joe Biden is calling on states and local governments to join those that are already handing out dollars for shots. New York, the nation’s biggest city, started doling out $100 awards on Friday.

The president, health officials, and state leaders are betting that the financial incentive will spur hesitant people to get the shot just as the highly contagious delta variant sweeps through parts of the country — particularly those with low vaccination rates — and as the number of daily inoculations falls sharply from its April high.

Jay Vojno, getting his shot Friday in New York, said he figured some kind of incentive was coming, so he was willing to hold off on getting vaccinated until it did.

“I knew they were going to do it, so I just waited,” he said.

Bradley Sharp was among those getting a shot Friday in Times Square. The soon-to-be college student had been putting it off but knew he would have to get vaccinated because the school he’s going to attend requires it.

“I thought I’d come here and get it today and get my hundred dollars because I’m going to get it anyway,” Sharp said.

Other states are beginning programs to hand out money too. New Mexico helped pioneer cash incentives in June and is starting another $100 handout for vaccinations on Monday. Ohio is offering $100 to state employees who get vaccinated.

Minnesota’s $100 incentive started Friday, although several people showed up at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to get jabbed with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine hadn’t heard about the money.

Vidiya Sami, an office worker from the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield, went to the airport because it was the only location offering the “one-and-done” vaccine.

“That’s why I chose it,” Sami said.

She said she delayed getting the shot because she was scared at first, “especially reading about ... the side effects from other people.”

“And then I kind of made myself more paranoid by joining Facebook groups, and reading everybody else’s symptoms after they got the shots,” she said. “I was basically just giving myself anxiety, but the more I researched about it, you know, the pros outweighed the cons.”

Incentives are not new: States have tried lottery-like giveaways, free beer, gift cards, and more. Whether they result in getting more people vaccinated is not clear, said Harald Schmidt, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a research associate at the school’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics.

Turning to such measures suggests that governments are facing a level of desperation in trying to get shots into arms, he said.

“It is right to be alarmed,” Schmidt said. “It is right to be thinking how do we right this ship.” He added that he understands the motivation for cash incentives, but questioned why they’re needed in the first place.

“If we just get needles into arms we haven’t really made any progress on the bigger picture, which is that whole communities are lacking trust in health care systems or the government,” he said.

California awarded $116.5 million in gift cards and prizes — the nation’s biggest pot of vaccine prize money. The spending was aimed at getting 70% of eligible people inoculated by June 15. As of Thursday, though, 62.5% of Californians 12 or older were fully vaccinated.

In Colorado, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis insists a host of prizes, including five $1 million awards and 25 $50,000 college scholarships, are critical to the vaccination campaign. The state health department sends text messages to unvaccinated residents who live near scheduled clinic locations to alert them about a $100 Walmart gift card incentive. The state says clinics have seen a 40% increase in visits since the program was announced on July 21.

The Biden administration is betting the incentives will work. In a statement this week, the White House cited a grocery store chain that offered $100 to its workers to get the COVID-19 shot and then saw vaccination rates climb.

State and local governments can use federal American Rescue Plan relief funding to provide the $100, according to the statement.