Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order 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,” Abbott said in a statement.
Abbott, a Republican, said in his order that it was prompted by the Biden administration’s vaccination mandate, which he said was federal overreach.
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. Texas has continued to experience a rise in cases and crowded hospitals, prompting Abbott 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 vaccinations, issuing $1,000 fines to those who failed to comply. School districts in San Antonio and Dallas have challenged the order in court. The Legislature also passed a bill in June banning private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination from customers.
In Monday’s order, Abbott also sent a memo asking the chief clerk of the state House and the secretary of the state Senate to codify the mandate in a bill. He said the order would be rescinded when the GOP-controlled Legislature passes the bill.
Other Republican-led states have taken similar approaches. Montana passed a bill banning vaccination requirements by employers. Florida also banned businesses from requiring proof of vaccination this year.
Dartunorro Clark covers politics, including the Covid-19 recovery, for NBC News.