Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Bans Private Businesses From Mandating Vaccines for Workers
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Monday banning any entity in the state—including private businesses—from requiring that workers or customers show proof of having been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement that the readily available and safe vaccines were “our best defense against the virus” but added that vaccinations should “always remain voluntary and never forced.” He also asked the state legislature to codify the ban on vaccine mandates into state law.
I issued an Executive Order prohibiting vaccine mandates by ANY entity in Texas.
I also added the issue to the Special Session agenda.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced. pic.twitter.com/8hHHLyebCk
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 11, 2021
As The Texas Tribune notes, the new ban on vaccine mandates is a significant (and disappointing) reversal for Abbott, who had previously banned government-run entities like school districts from mandating vaccines but had taken a hands-off approach with businesses. “Private businesses don’t need government running their business,” an Abbott spokesperson told the Tribune in August.
Apparently, Abbott now thinks they do. By sticking his nose into the affairs of private businesses, Abbott is setting up a potential conflict with some of his state’s biggest employers, including Southwest Airlines and American Airlines—both of which are based in Texas and recently told employees to get the shot if they want to keep their jobs. Mandatory vaccination policies should always include carveouts to cover those who have had a previous COVID-19 infection or have religious or medical reasons for not getting jabbed, of course, but those issues are better worked out between employers and employees.
Abbott’s new mandate also puts some businesses in a tricky situation where they must choose between disobeying state or federal law. President Joe Biden announced last month that all businesses with more than 100 employees would be required to mandate vaccines for their workers (or conduct weekly tests), with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforcing the mandate.
Biden’s mandate continues to be a massive overreach of executive authority. Abbott’s ban on private mandates is little different. Neither is probably all that enforceable, though every business owner in Texas will rightfully fear being held up and punished by one side or the other as an example of what happens to those who refuse to comply.
Vaccines remain by far the best strategy for saving lives and ending the pandemic. It makes sense that businesses would want their employees to be vaccinated. Those who refuse the shot should be free to do so, but they do not have a right to any particular job. None of those decisions should require the coercive efforts of state or federal officials.
This is just as much a slap in the face to business freedom as Biden’s intended OSHA mandate.
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) October 11, 2021
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