AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order banning any entity, including private companies, from applying a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to workers and called on lawmakers to ‘State to enact a similar ban.
The move comes as the Biden administration is set to enact rules requiring employers with more than 100 workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly for the coronavirus. Several large companies, including American Airlines and Texas-based Southwest Airlines, have said they will meet the federal mandate.
“No entity in Texas can compel an individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including an employee or consumer, who objects to such vaccination for reasons of personal conscience, based on religious belief, or for reasons medical, including previous ones. recovery from COVID-19, ”Abbott wrote in his order.
Abbott, who was previously vaccinated and also tested positive for COVID-19 subsequently, noted in his order that “vaccines are strongly encouraged for those eligible to receive one, but must still be voluntary for Texans. “.
Texas has seen a recent decrease in new reported COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. But the increase in the death toll from the recent outbreak caused by the delta variant is rapidly approaching the state of 67,000 total deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
The governor added the issue to lawmakers’ agendas during the current special session Abbott called for redesigning voting cards and new restrictions on transgender student athletes. Montana passed a law preventing employers from requiring workers to be vaccinated, and a number of states have explicitly stated that schools cannot require vaccinations.
Abbott previously banned mandates for vaccines from state and local government agencies, but until now he had let private companies set their own rules for their workers. It was not immediately clear whether Abbott’s latest decree would be the subject of a swift legal challenge.
Abbott’s new order also has political implications. The two-term Republican faces pressure from two candidates for next year’s GOP primary, former State Senator Don Huffines and former Florida congressman and party chairman of the State of Texas Allen West, attacked Abbott’s COVID-19 policies and strongly opposed vaccination warrants.
“He knows which way the wind is blowing. He knows conservative Republican voters are tired of vaccination mandates and tired of being a failed leader, ”Huffines tweeted.
West recently tested positive for COVID-19. He was briefly hospitalized, but also tweeted that he remained opposed to vaccination warrants. West announced on his social media accounts Monday that he had returned home.