Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday issued a new executive order prohibiting any entity, including privately-owned businesses, from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on workers in the state. Abbott also called on other state lawmakers to sign a similar ban into law.
Under the order, “[n]o entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
This order immediately follows the Biden administration’s issuance of rules requiring employers with over 100 workers to be vaccinated or to test weekly for COVID-19. The order has sparked controversy, with major companies around the country announcing they would abide by the federal mandate. Other companies have instead chosen to risk the OSHA-related fines.
Since March of 2020, Abbott has released 30 coronavirus-related executive orders. In May 2021, Abbott signed Executive Order GA 36, which provided that no person would be required by any jurisdiction in Texas to mandate the wearing of a face covering. Earlier this year, Abbott had barred vaccine mandates by state and local government agencies, but up until this new order had allowed private companies to regulate themselves. It is unknown at this time how quickly this new executive order will be challenged, but experts believe it will be swift.
In the ongoing Texas special session, Abbott called for a COVID-19 ban, a redrawing of voting maps, and new heightened restrictions on transgender student athletes. Meanwhile, states around the US continue to pass laws preventing employers from mandating vaccines to workers.
More than 67,000 Texans have died from COVID-19, with 52 percent of the eligible population fully vaccinated, according to New York Times.