Gov. Greg Abbott says no Texas business can force employees to take COVID-19 vaccine

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AUSTIN – In a direct reprimand from the Biden government, Governor Greg Abbott stated Monday that Texas companies cannot order their workers or customers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Abbott said people who object to coronavirus vaccines for religious reasons, conscience or “medical reasons, including an earlier recovery from COVID-19” should not be forced to take them.

No company in Texas should do this, he said in an order threatening $ 1,000 fines for violating its contingency plan for the pandemic. It’s a change from August, when the governor’s office said companies have the option to require vaccines for employees.

Experts said federal vaccine regulations would replace the Republican governor’s rule.

Abbott, who faces two major challengers to the GOP who have called its COVID-19 crisis management a violation of Texans’ personal freedoms, has also put the issue of banning vaccine requirements on the agenda of the current special legislative session.

Earlier last month, he added to the meeting’s agenda the question of whether state and local government agencies might need vaccines “and if so, what exemptions should apply to such a mandate”. Abbott appeared to be forgiving of the legislature’s verdict, although the legislature was in no hurry to pass anything on the matter in the third special session of the year. It has to end at midnight on October 19th.

“In yet another federal overstepping case, the Biden administration is now pushing many private entities to impose COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruption that threatens Texas’ continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster,” said Abbott on his Monday board assignment.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and our best defense against the virus, but it should be voluntary and never enforced,” he said in a written statement.

However, the governor’s recent stance differs from what his office said in late August that it was acceptable for a private company to demand shots. At that time, Abbott updated an earlier edict that banned government entities, not corporations, from compulsory vaccination. Abbott’s revision reflected that Pfizer’s shot had moved from emergency use approval – the governor’s phrase used in previous proclamations – to full Food and Drug Administration approval.

In late August, Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze confirmed to the Texas Tribune that private companies still have the ability to prescribe vaccines to their employees, saying, “Private companies don’t need a government to run their business.”

Last month, the Biden government announced that government contractors and companies with more than 100 employees would need vaccines. Contractors who fail to comply could lose lucrative government contracts. Large employers could face fines of $ 14,500 per case from the labor protection agency.

The far-reaching directive faces legal challenges, but several large Texan companies are already in the process of complying with it.

Sanford Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas, named Abbott’s rank.

“I wouldn’t take it seriously as a legal measure,” he said, “unless this argument that Biden just doesn’t have the power, that the Department of Labor just doesn’t have the power, surprisingly wins through – and I don’t have a me don’t think that’s the case. “

Abbott’s action comes after a weekend in which top GOP national figures like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. blamed Biden’s vaccine requirements for the cancellation of more than 2,000 Southwest Airlines flights between Friday and Monday.

Following the example of American, United and JetBlue, Southwest announced earlier last week that its 60,000 employees must be vaccinated by December 8th. CEO Gary Kelly said there would be some medical, disabled, or religious exceptions, but they would be “very” limited. “On Monday, new CEO Bob Jordan said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News that bad weather could disrupt air traffic and military maneuvers in Florida over the weekend led to personnel problems.

“There is absolutely no evidence of any kind of labor action,” he said, although Trump Jr. calls it a “strike.”

In his order late Monday, Abbott said, “Countless Texans fear losing their livelihoods for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

He said that state legislatures traditionally enjoy primacy in setting vaccination policy.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Texas is still lagging behind other states on vaccinations. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 63% of residents 12 years and older are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Unvaccinated Texans are more likely to be hospitalized and die of the disease, public health officials said.

In previous executive orders, Abbott prohibited government agencies from vaccinating workers. Legislators also passed a bill this year that Abbott put into effect that bans so-called “vaccine passports”. The law states that Texas companies cannot force customers to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who violate it can lose state contracts.

But some companies are still looking for evidence. To get to the games, the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team requires fans to be fully vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19 within the last 48 hours.

Abbott is vaccinated. He contracted COVID-19 in August but was never hospitalized. One of his main opponents of the GOP, former Texas Republican Party leader Allen West, was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the weekend and tweeted from his hospital bed on Monday that in his experience he was “even more committed to fighting vaccine mandates.” have. West was released from the hospital on Monday afternoon.

Another major antagonist, former Dallas State Senator Donald Huffines, wrote on Twitter that Abbott “knows how the wind blows. He knows that Conservative Republican voters are fed up with vaccination mandates and fed up with being a failed leader. “

Greg Abbott is a political windsock and proves it today.

He knows from which direction the wind is blowing. He knows that Conservative Republican voters are fed up with vaccination mandates and fed up with being a failed leader.

– Don Huffines (@DonHuffines) October 11, 2021

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