Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued another executive order cracking down on COVID-19 vaccine mandates — this time banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced,” he said in a tweet announcing his latest order. The order marks a significant reversal after Abbott previously gave private businesses the choice to mandate vaccines for workers. An Abbott spokesperson said in late August that “private businesses don’t need government running their business.”
For weeks, Abbott has been under pressure from some on his right to go further in prohibiting vaccine requirements, and one of his primary challengers, Don Huffines, celebrated the latest order. COVID-19 vaccine requirements by government agencies, cities, counties and school districts were already banned by a previous executive order — which is currently being fought in court by the San Antonio Independent School District. The Legislature also already passed into law a ban on so-called vaccine passports — which would allow businesses to require proof of vaccination from customers.
A law is passed by the senate and the house of representatives and signed by the governor. A mandate is made by the governor, with the power given to them by the legislature in a state of emergency.
Health officers in the state have said everyone must comply with the Governor’s mandate, which makes the mandate enforceable by health officers and police.