IssuesStatewide NewsGov. Abbott Signs Order to Prohibit COVID-19 Business Restrictions, Restrict Vaccine Passports

The governor’s new executive order emphasizes a prohibition on “vaccine passports” and prohibits “COVID-19-related operating limits for any business.”
July 29, 2021
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Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new executive order Thursday afternoon updating his COVID-19 policy to remove the ability for local executives to reinstate capacity restrictions on businesses if the current rise in coronavirus hospitalizations continues.

His order also reiterates the ban on coronavirus “vaccine passports” that was approved by the legislature and went into effect in June, prohibiting governmental entities from enforcing any measure that “requires an individual to provide, as a condition of receiving service or entering any place, documentation regarding the individual’s status for any COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

“Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19,” said Abbott in a press release. “The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

The governor’s new executive order supersedes his previous one that would have allowed county judges to reinstate lockdown measures if COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed 15 percent capacity in a given region for seven consecutive days.

With a recent uptick in cases spreading across Texas, crossing that threshold may be just around the corner for many counties.

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While government mask mandates were largely prohibited in Abbott’s most recent executive orders, business capacities could have been restricted to a maximum of 50 percent total capacity.

Per his new order, “There are no COVID-19-related operating limits for any business or other establishment.”

Abbott’s order states that the imposition of any limitation or face covering requirement by “a local governmental entity or official constitutes a ‘failure to comply with’ this executive order that is subject to a fine up to $1,000.”

However, face coverings can still be required by “state supported living centers, government-owned hospitals, and government-operated hospitals,” as well as “the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, and any county and municipal jails.”

Like his most recent previous orders, Abbott’s new order prohibits confinement in jail as a punishment for violating any COVID-19-related order, either state or local.

“Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19. They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities,” said Abbott.

“Vaccines, which remain in abundant supply, are the most effective defense against the virus, and they will always remain voluntary – never forced – in the State of Texas.”

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.