Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Monday prohibiting any entity, including private businesses, from imposing Covid-19 vaccination requirements on employees or customers.
"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced," said Abbott said in a statement.
Abbott, a Republican, said in his order that it was prompted by the Biden administration's vaccine federal mandate, which the governor called federal overreach.
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President Joe Biden announced a mandate last month requiring companies with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workforces are vaccinated or regularly tested. The Labor Department has yet to release details of the emergency rule, but Biden last week called on companies to act now and not to wait for the requirement to go into effect.
Abbott, who tested positive for Covid in August, has also resisted mask mandates and requiring proof of vaccination in the state. The state has continued to experience a rise in cases and crowded hospitals, prompting the governor to invest in monoclonal antibody infusion centers.
Abbott issued executive orders over the summer banning local governments and school districts from requiring either masks or vaccines, issuing a $1,000 fine to those who failed to comply. School districts in San Antonio and Dallas, however, have challenged the order in court. The state legislature also passed a bill in June banning private businesses requiring vaccination proof from customers.
In Monday's order, Abbott also sent a memo to the chief clerk of the state House of Representatives and the secretary of the state Senate requesting to codify the mandate in a bill. The governor said the order will be rescinded when the GOP-controlled legislature passes the bill.
Other GOP-led states have taken similar approaches to Texas. Montana passed a bill banning vaccine requirements by employers. Earlier this year, Florida also banned businesses from requiring proof of vaccination.
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