(Add a quote from Abbott’s decree)
By Dan Whitcomb
Oct. 11 (Reuters) – Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, responding to what he called “bullying” by the Biden administration, on Monday banned all COVID-19 vaccine warrants in the state by any entity, including private employers.
Abbott’s move sets him up for a clash with President Joe Biden, a Democrat who last month called on businesses across the country to order their workers to get vaccinated or lose their jobs. At least several thousand people have since been dismissed for refusing to comply.
“In another federal overrun case, the Biden administration is now intimidating many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine warrants, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’ continued recovery after the COVID-19 disaster, “Abbott said in an executive order.
The White House made no immediate comment.
Abbott’s order states that “no entity in Texas” could require proof of vaccination from an individual, including employees or customers. He called on state lawmakers to address the issue at an upcoming special session.
Tech giants Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s 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, 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 Nov. 24 – or be fired.
United Airlines 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 those who have requested exemptions.
Biden issued his tenure in September as his administration struggled to control the pandemic, which has killed more than 700,000 Americans.
US political leaders have stepped up pressure on the unvaccinated in recent weeks.
Laws requiring proof of vaccination are deeply controversial in the United States, with many Americans criticizing them as unconstitutional and authoritarian.
Supporters of the vaccination mandates see them as necessary to pull the country out of the nearly two-year pandemic and return to normalcy. (Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Additional reporting by Tom Hals and Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)