Gov. Greg Abbott signed Texas executive order on Monday prohibiting any institution, including private businesses, from imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on employees and urging state legislators to approve a similar restriction.
The announcement comes as the Biden administration prepares to draught regulations requiring more than 100 employees to be vaccinated or tested for the coronavirus weekly. Several major airlines, notably American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, both based in North Texas, have stated that they will follow the federal mandate.
Abbott wrote in his order that "vaccines are strongly promoted for individuals able to get one, but must always be voluntary for Texans." Abbott had previously been inoculated and then tested positive for COVID-19.
Abbott had previously banned state and local governments from imposing vaccine requirements but had allowed private corporations to set their policies for their employees. It was unclear whether Abbott's latest executive action would get quickly challenged in court.
"It's uncommon to have a Republican governor encroaching on private enterprises' rights to this extent," said Matthew Wilson, an SMU political science professor. "Because, on the whole, Republicans support private firms' ability to create whatever work terms they wish."
Abbott has also added the subject to the session schedule that the state legislature will pass the ban. The Dallas Mavericks, who just began requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for all fans at home games, are affected by the ruling.