Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order that bans vaccine mandates by any entity, including private employers, in the state.
“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 upon issuing the order.
The executive order (pdf) states, “No 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.”
“I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition,” Abbott wrote in the order.
He also added the issue as an agenda to the third special legislative session which is currently convened until Oct. 19, to give lawmakers the opportunity to pass a law to similar effect.
“The executive order will be rescinded upon the passage of such legislation,” Abbott wrote.
President Joe Biden in September issued a directive to compel private companies with over 100 employees to have their workers be vaccinated or tested weekly. Once in force, companies face $13,600 in fines per violation.
At the time, Abbott called Biden’s move “an assault on private businesses” and said that “Texas is already working to halt this power grab,” joining more than a dozen states in resisting the mandate.
The text of Abbott’s latest executive order, GA-40, reads, “in yet another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’ s continued recovery from the COVID- 19 disaster.”
It adds, “countless Texans fear losing their livelihoods because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination for reasons of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
The governor noted in his executive order that the Texas legislature “has taken care to provide exemptions that allow people to opt out of being forced to take a vaccine for reasons of conscience or medical reasons.”
Abbott previously in June signed into law a measure that bans government entities and private businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for service or entry. Businesses that don’t comply with the law will not be able to enter any state contracts and will be ineligible to receive a grant.
A previous executive order Abbott signed in April did not cover private businesses with regard to vaccine passports.