Gov. Greg Abbott (R) took executive action on Thursday, signing an order barring cities from implementing mask and vaccine requirements; this move is part of the administration’s effort to “promote statewide uniformity and certainty” in the Lone Star State’s coronavirus response.
The order states “no governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face covering or to mandate that another person wear a face covering,” with limited exceptions.
“No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization,” the order continues, barring state agencies and political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing any “order, ordinance, policy, regulation, rule, or similar measure that requires an individual to provide, as a condition of receiving any service or entering any place, documentation regarding the individual’s vaccination status for any COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”
The order also bars public and private entities that either are receiving public funds or will receive public funds from requiring consumers to reveal their vaccination status as a condition of service.
“No consumer may be denied entry to a facility financed in whole or in part by public funds for failure to provide documentation regarding the consumer’s vaccination status for any COVID-19 vaccine administrated under an emergency use authorization,” it adds.
Additionally, Abbott’s order emphasizes there are “no COVID-19-related operating limits for any business or other establishment” and while it suggests that people in areas of high transmission follow basic health guidelines, it stresses that “no person may be required by any jurisdiction to wear or to mandate the wearing of a face covering.”
“Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement, explaining that the order places greater emphasis on personal responsibility rather than government edicts.
“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,” Abbott continued.
“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,” he vowed.
The order follows through with Abbott’s theme of prioritizing personal responsibility — not government mandates — in the Lone Star State:
The time for government mask mandates is over—now is the time for personal responsibility.
In May, I signed an executive order prohibiting mask mandates by gov't entities.
Every Texan has the right to choose whether they will wear a mask or have their children wear masks.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 27, 2021
Many state Democrats, however, are outraged, including State Rep. Donna Howard, one of the fully vaccinated Texas state lawmakers who tested for the coronavirus after proudly fleeing to Washington, DC, alongside her maskless colleagues to protest election integrity legislation. She has since called for a universal mask mandate:
We need to follow the science here. Texas needs to change course and allow for universal mask-wearing to prevent spread of the highly contagious delta variant, esp as children under 12 cannot get vaccinated yet. #txlege @AmerAcadPeds https://t.co/szexnJ4yl3
— Donna Howard (@DonnaHowardTX) July 21, 2021