October 11 (Reuters) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order banning all COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the state by any entity, including private employers.
Abbott’s decision sets him up for a clash with President Joe Biden, a Democrat who last month called on employers across the country to order their workers to get vaccinated or lose their jobs. Abbott is a Republican.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said in a written statement.
The governor’s order states that “no entity in Texas” could require proof of vaccination from an individual, including employees or customers. Abbott also called on state lawmakers to address the issue at an upcoming special session.
Tech giants Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) Google both told employees they would need proof of vaccination to return to their offices. Both companies employ a large number in Texas.
American Airlines (AAL.O), based in Fort Worth, the largest US carrier, told its 100,000 US-based employees last week that they had to submit full proof of vaccination by November 24. – or be made redundant. Read more
United Airlines (UAL.O) has imposed a vaccination mandate on its 60,000 employees, of which approximately 9,000 are based in Texas.
The company is defending a lawsuit filed in Fort Worth, and a federal judge will hear an injunction on Wednesday from United employees to prevent the carrier from sacking employees who have requested exemptions from the vaccination mandate.
Biden’s tenure announcement in September came as his administration struggled to control the pandemic, which has killed more than 700,000 Americans.
Mandatory vaccinations have become an incendiary political issue in the United States, with many conservatives claiming it constitutes an excess of government power. Supporters argue that they are essential in curbing the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Additional reports by Tom Hals and Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney
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