Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 968 into law that targets businesses requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. The legislation will deny state contracts to Texas businesses that require customers to be vaccinated, as well as threaten licenses and operating permits.
“Texas is open 100%, and we want to make sure you have the freedom to go where you want without limits,” Abbott stated. “Vaccine passports are now prohibited in the Lone Star State.”
The debate around vaccine credentials has remained highly partisan. While Republicans continue to oppose the move on the basis of individual freedoms and privacy, Democrats and private companies point to the passports as a way to confidently return to activities and ensure safety at workplaces. A handful of GOP-backed bills have been introduced in individual states across the nation seeking to restrict vaccine requirements.
While Abbott continues to celebrate the statewide drop in COVID-19 cases, just under half of all Texans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. About 36.5% of Texans are fully vaccinated. Republicans have emerged as particularly resistant to vaccination efforts and although Abbott was vaccinated live on TV, he has continued to stress that vaccines are “voluntary” in his public statements.
“Texans are returning to normal life as more people get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. But as I’ve said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said in a video announcing the order. “Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal health information just to go about their daily lives.”